Pixel Scroll 11/30/22 Mr. Balrog, I Move We Adjourn Combat Sine Die

(1) FUND FOR PETER DAVID. A GoFundMe has been started on behalf of writer Peter David, who has many health problems and faces mounting bills. “Peter David Fund”.

I’m fundraising for author Peter David and his family. He’s had some compounded health problems, and the bills are piling up! On top of kidney failure, and the steep medical bills incurred from that, he just had another series of strokes AND a mild heart attack.  

As we wish him a swift recovery, and send our love and support to his wife Kathleen and his family, let’s also pitch in and help with their medical bills and living expenses. 

Please give what you can to relieve some of the immense stress that this family is going through right now.  

On behalf of Peter, Kathleen, and the whole family, thank you!

The appeal had brought in $51,725 from 1100+ donors at the time this was written.

(2) ARISIA NAMES NEW CHAIR. Melissa Kaplan is the new acting con chair of Arisia 2023. She has written a statement about her conrunning background and why she volunteers to do this.

The past few months have been among the most tumultuous in Arisia’s long history. After the loss of our conchair Jodie Lawhorne, two people stepped up to complete his work. In late October we learned about a serious incident involving one of our volunteers that was reported but never written down many years ago. The individual was put through our current more robust incident response protocol and was subsequently banned from all future participation in Arisia. We also learned that the acting con chairs had had knowledge of this and despite that, had consulted with this individual about volunteering for Arisia 2023. Between that information, and increasing levels of unrelated personal stress on those acting con chairs, it was determined that it was best for all parties for them to step down. Where that left us was 7 weeks out from a convention with no one in charge. I reached out to the e-board and offered to fill in the gap.

So hi, my name is Melissa Kaplan and I’ll be your acting con chair for the next 6.5 weeks….

(3) WILLIS X 2. Dave Langford and Rob Hansen have assembled TAWF Times Two: The 1962 Trip Reports by Walt and Madeleine Willis into a book and made it available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.

The Tenth Anniversary Willis Fund (TAWF) was organized to bring Walt Willis – this time with his wife Madeleine – to the 1962 Chicago Worldcon, ten years after the fan initiative that brought Walt alone to the 1952 Worldcon also held in Chicago. Both wrote trip reports: Walt’s was serialized in various fanzines and eventually collected as Twice Upon a Time in the monumental Warhoon #28 (1980) edited by Richard Bergeron. Madeleine’s instalments of The DisTAWF Side appeared in The SpeleoBem edited by Bruce Pelz, and have never until now been collected.

For this ebook, Rob Hansen has digitized Madeleine’s chapters, expanded them with comments and corrections from others (plus an unpublished letter from Walt and another from Madeleine) and written a new Foreword covering both reports. David Langford had the easier task of extracting Twice Upon a Time from Warhoon #28, unscrambling dates, correcting typos and restoring a fragment of lost text. Scans of all the original fanzine appearances at Fanac.org were a great help to both of us.

Released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 December 2022. Cover photo of the Willises in 1957 from the collection of Norman Shorrock, probably taken by Peter West. Over 87,000 words.

(4) ANOTHER OPENING OF ANOTHER SHOW. “The Museum of Broadway Is Open. Here Are 10 Highlights.” The New York Times gives reasons to visit when you’re in town.

When a Broadway show closes, the next stop for the hundreds of costumes, setpieces and props is often … the dumpster.

“The producers often stop paying rent in a storage unit somewhere, which is heartbreaking,” said Julie Boardman, one of the founders of the Museum of Broadway, which opened in Times Square this month.

Boardman, 40, a Broadway producer whose shows include “Funny Girl” and “Company,” and Diane Nicoletti, the founder of a marketing agency, are looking to reroute those items to their museum, a dream five years in the making.

“We see it as an experiential, interactive museum that tells the story of Broadway through costumes, props and artifacts,” Nicoletti, 40, said of the four-floor, 26,000-square-foot space on West 45th Street, next to the Lyceum Theater….

‘Phantom of the Opera’ Chandelier Installation

Each of the 13,917 glistening crystals in this piece, which were fashioned by the German artist Ulli Böhmelmann into hanging strands, is meant to represent one performance the Broadway production of “The Phantom of the Opera” will have played from its opening on Jan. 26, 1988, through its closing night performance. Though the final show was originally set for Feb. 18, 2023, the production announced Tuesday that it had been pushed to April 16 amid strong ticket sales (Böhmelmann plans to add the necessary crystals).

‘Avenue Q’ Puppets

In the early days of the 2003 Broadway production of the puppet-filled musical comedy “Avenue Q,” the show’s low budget meant the puppeteers had to put their charges through quick changes. The show initially had only three Princeton puppets — but he had eight costumes — meaning the puppets took a beating from changing clothes multiple times eight shows a week. “Eventually, they had a puppet for every costume,” McDonald said.

Gershwin Theater Set Model

This scale model, which is just over five feet wide, was designed by Edward Pierce, the associate scenic designer of the original Broadway production of “Wicked,” and took four people seven weeks to build. It includes more than 300 individual characters — and another 300 seated audience members in the auditorium. (See if you can find the Easter egg: a small model of the set model, with the designers — who look like the actual designers — showing the director a future design for “Wicked.”)

Wicked set model

(5) THE BEGINNING. In “Back to Back and Belly to Belly and Other Epiphanies on Speculative Poetry”, Akua Lezli Hope shows where it all comes from.

The world’s first literature is speculative poetry.

We told each other stories and encoded them in the form of verse. The earliest written literature is poetry – The Story of Gilgamesh, The Iliad and Odyssey, The Ramayana and Mahabharata, Beowulf and other npoem myths, verse histories and tellings in cultures across and around the world.

I had an epiphany about speculative poetry.

It was there from the start, in my womb and my heart….

(6) PROBABLY AN ANNIVERSARY. “Hitchhiker’s at 42” and 3 Quarks Daily is celebrating. Because something to do with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy happened forty-two years ago. Didn’t it?

… To document the broader cultural impact of Hitchhiker’s, we’ve asked a number of public figures in science, the arts, the humanities, and government to reflect on how the book changed their own understanding of life, the universe, and everything.

The Hitchhiker series taught me to laugh at the absurd, to mock self-proclaimed genius, to put off searching for the meaning of life in favor of play, and to oppose time travel on the ground that proper tense usage would become too difficult. It also prepared me to understand that some Albany politicians are like Vogons, insofar as neither are above corruption in the same way that the ocean is not above the sky. And it made 42 my favorite number.” –Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and host of Stay Tuned and Doing Justice…

(7) FREE READ. Congratulations to Cora Buhlert, who has a new short story “Legacy of Steel” in the November 2022 issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine. The other stories in the issue are “Sun in Shadow” by Sandra Unerman and “You Stand Before the Black Tower” by Nathaniel Webb.

(8)  MORE FROM THE MASTERS. Cora Buhlert also has posted a new Masters of the Universe photo story on her blog: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Family’”.

…I have had some new arrivals recently, including at long last King Randor, which opens up a lot of possibilities for stories involving the royal family of Eternia.

One thing that is remarkably consistent over all versions of Masters of the Universe from the early mini-comics via the Filmation cartoon of the 1980s, the 2002 cartoon, the various comics, Masters of the Universe: Revelation all the way to the Netflix CGI show is that Prince Adam has a strained relationship with his father King Randor. Cause Randor always finds something to criticise about his son and heir. Adam is too lazy, too irresponsible, not princely enough, not interested enough in affairs of state, not heroic enough, too foolhardy and he also missed dinner or an official reception, because he was off saving Eternia….

(9) NO MERE METAPHOR. Douglas Kearney holds forth “On the Similarities Between Writing and Turning Oneself Into a Werewolf” at Literary Hub.

…While stretching my hands into claws, I hunt my memory. Have I ever felt talons grow from my fingertips? Do I know the twinge of lupine hair breaking my burning, blossoming skin? How does the paradigm of meaning-making shift when I find I can smell more keenly than I can see? In all these years, have I come closer to knowing?

You might suggest I use writing to account for these questions. Documenting my thoughts about them in a field journal—“May 26: I think I smelled a pig at one mile today.” Nope. I’ve no werewolf archive. There are a few poems, sure; yet they skin the lycanthrope to cover and do some other thing. Those poems, they are not telling you what I am telling you: that I have meant to be a werewolf, and that this has been, I’m afraid, a quiet, lifelong ambition, a discipline I’ve maintained longer and to less purpose, it would seem, than nearly all else….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1998 [By Cat Eldridge.] Hobbit holes (New Zealand)

Stop me before this gets novella length!

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. — The Hobbit

Only one of the movie sets in New Zealand survives and charmingly enough it’s the village where the hobbits resided. It was used for both trilogies and quite unsurprisingly is now a place with guided tours being offered every day. 

Jackson spotted it during a search by air for suitable locations using one of his airplanes, or so the story is now told, and thought it looked like a slice of England. Furthermore Alan Lee commented to him that the location’s terrain “looked as though Hobbits had already begun excavations” there. 

It became Hobbiton and the Shire with the facades of quite a few hobbit holes and associated gardens, a double arch bridge, hedges, and a mill. They erected an immense oak above Bag End that had been growing nearby and which was cut down and recreated in fibreglass on site complete with artificial leaves.

When I mean facades, I really mean just that. It’s not possible to go inside the as there is nothing inside them, just retaining walls and beyond that dirt. I’m guessing that the site is going to need expensive ongoing maintenance if it is going to survive long term. 

Bag End is the exception as they designed it so a little bit of interior has been designed to seen and the door will open so you can peek in. 

About those hobbit holes. No, the interior scenes for Bag End weren’t not shot here. (Of course they’d make lousy film sets, wouldn’t they? You can’t get cameras in there.) The interior of Bag End was shot in a studio in Wellington.  Ok, there are actually two Bag Ends as Ian McKelllen explains on his charming look at these:

Hobbits must appear smaller than the other characters in the film. When I, as Gandalf, meet Bilbo or Frodo at home, I bump my head on the rafters. (Tolkien didn’t think to mention it!) So there is a small Bag End set with small props to match. 

As Ian Holm and Elijah Wood would be too big within it, they have “scale doubles” who are of a matching size with the scenery and its miniature furniture. In the small set Bilbo and Frodo are played by Kiran Shah (Legend) who is in hobbit proportion to my Gandalf.

And of course there has to be a big Bag End, where the scale is human-sized and all the objects of the small set are duplicated but bigger. There the “hero actors” can play the hobbits but the camera expects a gigantic Gandalf and gets him in Paul Webster (a 7’4″ Wellingtonian) who substitutes for me.

So we’ve got a village full of hobbit hole facades that all look very charming as you can see here and you’ve got the rather amazing effect of creating the illusion of a hobbit hole interior that we can all think is real. I certainly did when I watched the first Hobbit film. I may not have cared for the film itself, but oh my the scenery and the depiction of Bag End was stellar! 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 30, 1835 Mark Twain. It’s been decades since I read it but I still know I loved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His other genre work is The Mysterious Stranger in which Satan might be visiting us went unpublished in his lifetime and it’s only relatively recently published with the University of California Press editions of all his completed and uncompleted versions in one volume that a reader can see what he intended. (Died 1910.)
  • Born November 30, 1893 E. Everett Evans. Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom who started out with fan writing, but eventually became a published genre author as well. He helped to found the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) and served as its president and editor of its publication. Food for Demons was a chapbook compilation of his fantasy tales, though he was generally not considered to be a good fiction writer. Fandom’s Big Heart Award, which was founded by Forrest J Ackerman in 1959, was named for him for its first 40 years. In 2018, Bob Tucker’s fanzine Le Zombie, of which he had co-edited two issues, won a Retro Hugo Award. (Died 1958.) (JJ)
  • Born November 30, 1906 John Dickson Carr. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent and The Lost Gallows is apparently genre. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as are his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. The usual suspects have a more than decent stock of his offerings. (Died 1977.)
  • Born November 30, 1950 Chris Claremont, 72. Writer in the comic realm. Best known for his astounding twenty year run on the Uncanny X-Men starting in 1976. During his tenure at Marvel, he co-created at least forty characters. Looking at his bibliography, I see that he did Sovereign Seven as a creator own series with DC publishing it.  And then there’s the matter of Lucas providing the notes for The Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy to follow the Willow film and then contracting our writer to make them exist.  Anyone ever encountered these?
  • Born November 30, 1952 Debra Doyle. Writer, Filker, and Fan. Her novel Knight’s Wyrd, co-written with her husband and collaborator James D. Macdonald, won a Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature. Most of their co-written works are fantasy, but their Mageworlds series also crosses into space opera territory. As filker Malkin Grey, she and Pergyn Wyndryder won a Pegasus Award for Best Historical Song. She was an instructor at the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop, and has been Guest of Honor at several conventions. (Died 2020.) (JJ)
  • Born November 30, 1955 Kevin Conroy. Frell, another great one lost too soon. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman on Batman: The Animated Series and many other DCU series.  On Justice League Action, the other characters often noting his stoic personality.  I’ve not seen it, but on Batwoman, he plays Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode.  (Died 2022.)
  • Born November 30, 1952 Jill Eastlake, 70. IT Manager, Costumer, Conrunner, and Fan who is known for her elaborate and fantastical costume designs; her costume group won “Best in Show” at the 2004 Worldcon.  A member of fandom for more than 50 years, she belonged to her high school’s SF club, then became an early member of NESFA, the Boston-area fan club, and served as its president for 4 years. She has served on the committees for numerous Worldcons and regional conventions, co-chaired a Costume-Con, and chaired two Boskones. She was the Hugo Award ceremony coordinator for the 1992 Worldcon, and has run the Masquerade for numerous conventions. Her extensive contributions were honored when she was named a Fellow of NESFA in 1976, and in 2011 the International Costumer’s Guild presented her with their Lifetime Achievement Award. She and her fan husband Don (who is irrationally fond of running WSFS Business Meetings) were Fan Guests of Honor at Rivercon.
  • Born November 30, 1957 Martin Morse Wooster. He discovered fandom in 1974 when he heard about “a big sci-fi con” in downtown Washington where admission was $10 at the door.  He had ten bucks, and so attended Discon II at 16.  A year later, he discovered fanzines through Don Miller, and discovered he liked writing book reviews.  He started contributing to File 770 in 1978 and continued for the rest of his life. He was one of twelve founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, which split from the Washington Science Fiction Association in 1975, and regularly attends PRSFS meetings to discuss books. Lost his life to a hit-and-run driver on November 12. (Died 2022.) (JJ)

(12) THERE’S SOMETHING YOU DON’T SEE EVERY DAY, EDGAR. “Passenger Jet Flies Over Launchpad Right as SpaceX Rocket Takes Off” reports Futurism.

Passengers on board a United Airlines commercial jet flying over Florida’s Cape Canaveral were able to spot an amazingly rare sight in the distance: a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, far below….

(13) HITCHCOCKIAN HORROR. “’Lost in Space’ star Bill Mumy shares ‘scary’ moment with Hitchcock, claims ‘he’s the monster of the story’” at Yahoo!  I don’t want to spoil the anecdote with an excerpt, however, you film history buffs will be interested.

Bill Mumy has worked with some of the most celebrated filmmakers in Hollywood history – but not all of his experiences were out of this world.

The former child star, who made his mark in the ‘60s series “Lost in Space,” has recently written a memoir titled “Danger, Will Robinson: The Full Mumy.” In it, he details his rise to stardom and the numerous encounters he had with TV and film icons along the way – including Alfred Hitchcock.

Mumy worked with the filmmaker in the TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” for the episode “Bang! You’re Dead!”. It was filmed in the summer of 1961 when Mumy was 7 years old….

(14) LEADER OF THE PACK. “Toxoplasma-Infected Wolves More Likely to Lead Packs, Study Finds”The Scientist has details.

Wolves infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii are far more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected wolves and are also more likely to disperse from the pack they’re born into, a study published November 24 in Communications Biology reports. The finding points to a possible connection between the infamous parasite and wolf population health.

Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a “mind control” parasite that can infect any warm-blooded animal, the paper states. The protozoan can only reproduce sexually in the guts of cats, and often spreads through contact with infected feline feces. Infection with T. gondii causes hosts to accrue permanent brain cysts and also induces toxoplasmosis, a disease that can embolden some host species, causing infected animals to seek out more situations in which they can transmit the parasite. Mice infected with T. gondii lose their fear of cat urine, for example, making them more likely to be killed and eaten by a cat, enabling the parasite to reproduce once again…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Snopes has a surprising answer to the question “Was a Harrison Ford Cameo Cut from ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’?” Well, you’re not surprised now – it wouldn’t be worth linking to if the answer was “No”, would it?

…The film, which was released in 1982, was written by Melissa Matheson, whom Ford was dating at the time. During a 2012 reunion for the film, actor Henry Thomas, who played the main character, Elliott, told Entertainment Weekly that he was just excited at the prospect of meeting Ford.

“When I met Steven, the first thing out of my mouth was I think, ‘I love Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and my hero was Harrison Ford,” Thomas said. “I basically was just excited to meet Steven in hopes that I would meet Harrison.”

Ford eventually agreed to shoot a cameo scene with Thomas, playing an uptight school principal who would scold Elliott after the famous frog escape scene, in which Elliott would also kiss a girl in his class. Spielberg also spoke about the cameo in an interview with EW: “He did the scene where E.T. is home levitating all of the stuff for his communicator up the stairs. Elliott is in the principal’s office after the frog incident. We don’t ever see Harrison’s face. We just hear his voice, see his body.”…

(16) VIDEO OF A PREVIOUS DAY. A short clip from Futurama illustrates why, “In the end, it was not guns or bombs that defeated the aliens, but that humblest of all God’s creatures, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.”

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Standback, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rick Moen.]

Pixel Scroll 11/9/22 The Night They Scrolled Old Pixels Down

(1) DRACULA DAILY. AudioFile’s Audiobook Break podcast has been sharing Dracula with audiobook listeners over the last weeks.

Embrace spine-tingling chills and vampiric horrors with AudioFile’s Audiobook Break podcast! In October, narrator Gildart Jackson and Dracula Daily’s Matt Kirkland joined AudioFile’s Michele Cobb to chat about the lasting impact of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA in pop culture, why they both loved serializing the timeless vampire story for their audiences, and more. Watch their discussion below—and start listening to DRACULA today.

Gildart Jackson narrates his Fireside Reading of Dracula with undisguised delight, letting listeners enjoy a masterpiece of horror on audio. Gildart has narrated more than 300 audiobooks and won multiple awards, and since Covid lockdowns began, he has been offering free daily Fireside Readings of classic books on Instagram and YouTube. Gildart’s entire family works on Fireside Readings—Gildart reads, Melora directs, Rory draws the illustrations, and Piper writes and performs the songs. It’s a true family affair.

Matt Kirkland’s Dracula Daily email newsletter has become “the internet’s biggest book club.” Matt shares how during the early days of Covid, he and his daughter realized how Bram Stoker’s epistolary tale is told through letters and diary entries throughout a summer and fall, and Dracula Daily was born. Now fans check their email messages with bated breath hoping for missives from all of Dracula’s characters, reordered as they occur chronologically in the novel. 

The audiobook will be ending on the podcast mid-month, but will stay up for people to listen to all the way through the end of the year. Listeners can follow along with DRACULA on our FREE Audiobook Break podcast now, with new chapters arriving every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Subscribe here.

(2) GUNN CENTER VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB. The Gunn Center for the Study of SF’s (CSSF) monthly virtual book club will meet on November 18.  For Native American Heritage Month, the Center has chosen Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun, the first of the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, a high fantasy epic inspired from histories and civilizations from pre-Columbian America. 

To join their virtual meeting on November 18th at noon (Central Time), register here. This programming is running all year, click here to see what’s in the Book Club’s future.

(3) RECREATIONAL POETRY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Poetry Games, an exhibition at the National Poetry Library (nationalpoetrylibraryorg.uk) through January 15.

Writers have long experimented with games as part of their practice, notably the Francophone Oulipo group, whose member Georges Perec wrote his 300-page 1969 novel La Disparition without using the letter ‘e’.  Now, however, everyone can participate in the playfulness of writing.  There’s a poetic spin on Jenga by Astra Papachristodoulou, where you pull out blocks bearing words to construct a poem. And Jn Stone and Abigail Parry’s Adversary, which asks players to build poems out of word cards.  Just try to avoid the Writer’s Block’ card which says, sympathetically, ‘It happens to all of us.’

There are also digital games such as Gemma Mahadeo and Ian McLarry’s If We Were Allowed To Visit, a navigable 3D space where every object is made of words, poetic fragments that shift as you move.  Philippe Grenon’s Émile Et Moi is a simple platformer in which you jump between words to build a poem.  After hopping around for a while, I had made, ‘another day swells air-bridged and downy/golden the night and glittering my works/dream rai sways alongside.’  Not bad, but perhaps not great poetry.

(4) MANCHESTER ENGLAND ENGLAND. Rob Hansen has added a section on “SUPERMANCON (1954)”, the British National SF Convention, to his fanhistory website THEN with a lot of old photos.

The 1954 British National SF Convention was held at the Grosvenor Hotel in Manchester, over the Whitsun weekend, Saturday 5th – Sunday 6th June (after this, the national convention would be held over Easter weekends).

(5) THE VERY “SPACIAL” FRIENDSHIP OF BUSTER CRABBE. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] When I was a little kid, prior to the Civil War, I had an imagination as fertile and as wide as my large brown eyes, dreamily filled with awe and wonder. My dad brought home our first television set in 1950.

Here is an affectionate remembrance of the Saturday Matinee and 1950’s Philadelphia television when classic cliffhanger serials thrilled and excited “children of all ages”… when careening spaceships and thundering hooves echoed through the revered imaginations and hallowed corridors of time and memory…and when Buster Crabbe lovingly brought “Flash Gordon,” “Buck Rogers,” “Red Barry,” and “Captain Gallant Of The Foreign Legion” to life in darkened movie palaces, and on television screens, all over the world.

Return with us now to “those thrilling days of yesteryear” when “Zorro’s Fighting Legion,” Buzz Corry of the “Space Patrol,” Ming, The Merciless, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, and Larry “Buster” Crabbe lit the early days of television, and Saturday afternoon motion picture screens, with magical imagery, and unforgettable excitement. Just click on the blue links above and below to escape into the past, via the world of tomorrow. “Careening Spaceships And Thundering Hooves: The Magic, Majesty And Visionary Splendor Of A Wondrous Childhood Era … And The Very “Spacial” Friendship Of Buster Crabbe” at Benner Days, Benner Nights.

(6) KEVIN O’NEILL (1954-2022.) “Kevin O’Neill, comic artist and ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ co-creator, dies at 69” reports the Los Angeles Times.

Kevin O’Neill, co-creator of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “Marshal Law” comic books, died last week after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, according to longtime collaborator Gosh Comics. He was 69.

… He started working in the comics industry at age 16, first as an office assistant for children’s humor comic Buster. He eventually made his way to publisher 2000 AD, where he was both a writer and illustrator. Its stable of titles includes Judge Dredd and Nemesis the Warlock, which O’Neill created with Mills.

The British artist worked as a Disney Comics colorist among other jobs before joining DC Comics. It was at DC that he began getting recognition with a stint on “The Omega Men.” He also worked on Alan Moore’s stories for the “Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual” in 1986….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2008 [By Cat Eldridge.] Doctor Who’s “The Unicorn and The Wasp”

Ok, this is simply my look at a favorite episode of Doctor Who which aired in May of 2008. 

If you haven’t seen this episode, go away now. Really. Truly. Everything that follows is spoilers in the extreme.

SPOILERS ALL THE WAY DOWN

One of my favorites of the newer episodes of this series is a country house mystery, “The Unicorn and The Wasp”, featuring a number of murders and, to add an aspect of meta-narrative to the story, writer Agatha Christie at the beginning of her career. It would riff off her disappearance for ten days which occurred just after she found her husband in bed with another woman. Her disappearance is a mystery that has never been satisfactorily answered to this day. Or it has depending on your viewpoint. 

Needless to say, the Doctor and Donna Noble arrived in the TARDIS at the grounds of the country house just before afternoon cocktails. The Doctor (David Tennant, my favorite of the new Doctors) uses his psychic power to convince The Lady of The Manor that she has met them previously and invited them for the weekend.

A murder will soon happen when Professor Plum is killed in The Library with a lead pipe. Yes, a Clue board game reference which his plucky companion (Catherine Tate) gleefully notes. And so it goes for the entire episode in a rather delightful manner. It’s silly, it’s fast-paced, and it’s one of the most British episodes that the new Who does. And it’s one that shows how clearly this series is fantasy, not SF.

The Unicorn of the title is simply the code name of an infamous jewel thief, but The Wasp of the title is a wasp, a bloody big one on that. A wasp that’s the love child of a shape shifting alien who made Her Ladyship pregnant in India forty years ago. A wasp that’s so big that it couldn’t survive in Earth’s gravity, but this is fantasy after all. (I firmly believe that almost all science fiction is fantasy — some are just more blatant about it.) And do keep an ear out for the many, many references to the novels Christie wrote.

A delightful romp which fits very nicely into the genre of Manor House mysteries which of course the future Dame Agatha would write a few herself. Oh and Agatha Christie was played by Fanella Woolgar, who was cast at the urging of Tennant who may or may not have known that the actress had appeared in the Poirot series several years previously.

Unfortunately it is now streaming only on Disney +, isn’t it?

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 9, 1921 Alfred Coppel. Have I ever mentioned how much I love pulp? Of course I have. Everything from the writers to the artwork to the magazines themselves are so, so cool. And this writer was one of the most prolific such authors of the Fifties and Sixties. That he was also a SF writer is an added bonus. Indeed, his first science fiction story was “Age of Unreason” in a 1947 Amazing Stories. Under the pseudonym of Robert Cham Gilman, he wrote the Rhada sequence of galactic space opera novels aimed at a young adult market. Wiki claims he wrote under the A.C. Marin name as well but I cannot find any record of this. (Died 2004.)
  • Born November 9, 1924 Larry Shaw. A Hugo Award-winning fan, author, editor and literary agent. In the Forties and Fifties, Larry Shaw edited NebulaInfinity Science Fiction and Science Fiction Adventures. He received a Special Committee Award during the 1984 Worldcon for lifetime achievement as an editor. (Died 1985.)
  • Born November 9, 1938 Carol Carr. Fan and writer of note. Her participation in the so-called secret APA Lilapa, and articles in the InnuendoLighthouse and Trap Door fanzines is notable. She wrote a handful of genre fiction, collected in Carol Carr: The Collected Writings. Mike has an obit here. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 9, 1947 Robert David Hall, 75. Best known as coroner Dr. Albert Robbins M.D. on CSI, but he has quite as few genre credits. He voiced Dinky Little in the animated Here Come the Littles, both the film and the series, the cyborg Recruiting Sargent in Starship Troopers,  voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. He was the voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. Interesting note: in Starship Troopers he has no right arm, but in real life he lost both of his legs at age thirty-one when they had to be amputated as a result of an accident in which an 18-wheeler truck crushed his car.  
  • Born November 9, 1954 Rob Hansen, 68. British fan, active since the Seventies who has edited and co-edited numerous fanzines including his debut production Epsilon. And he was the 1984 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. His nonfiction works such as Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980, last updated just a few years ago, are invaluable, as is his fanhistory website.
  • Born November 9, 1971 Jamie Bishop. The son of Michael Bishop, he was among those killed in the Virginia Tech shooting. He did the cover illustrations for a number of genre undertakings including Subterranean Online, Winter 2008 and Aberrant Dreams, #9 Autumn 2006. The annual “Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for an Essay Not in English” was established as a memorial by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 9, 1988 Tahereh Mafi, 34. Iranian-American whose Furthermore is a YA novel about a pale girl living in a world of both color and magic of which she has neither; I highly recommend it. Whichwood is a companion novel to this work. She also has a young adult dystopian thriller series. 
  • Born November 9, 1989 Alix E Harrow, 33. May I note that her short story with one of the coolest titles ever, “Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”, won a Hugo at Dublin 2019. Well I will. And of course her latest novel, The Once and Future Witches, has an equally cool title. It won the BFA Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel. 

(9) OH NOES! Oh no for the “oh no” comic. Twitter thread about the litigation starts here.

(10) IN THE OLYMPIAN ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. Shelf Awareness reports on an interesting casting decision: “TV: Percy Jackson and the Olympians”.

Lin-Manuel Miranda will have a key guest-starring role on Disney+’s upcoming series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, based on Rick Riordan’s bestselling book series. Deadline reported that Miranda, who, along with his son, is a fan of the Percy Jackson books, “will play Hermes, the messenger god who looks out for travelers and thieves, and is a bit of a trickster himself.” 

(11) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND THERE LIVED A MARTIAN. “House-Hunting for Caves on Mars Has Already Started” says the New York Times.

The neighborhood is a wild card, and moving there is bound to be expensive. But one of the best options for shelter when humans finally make it to the red planet will be subterranean caves. These rocky hollows, which exist in droves on both Earth and the moon, are natural buffers against the harsh conditions of Mars.

In a presentation this month at the Geological Society of America Connects 2022 meeting in Denver, researchers pinpointed nine leading cave candidates worthy of future exploration. All of these grottos appear to extend at least some distance underground, and they’re close to landing sites accessible to a lightweight rover.

These structures would offer a respite from the challenging Martian environment, said Nicole Bardabelias, a geoscientist at the University of Arizona. “Everything at the surface is subject to harsh radiation, possible meteorite or micrometeorite bombardment and really large day-to-night temperature swings,” she said.

To home in on Mars’ most sought-after real estate, Ms. Bardabelias and her colleagues consulted the Mars Global Cave Candidate Catalog. This compendium, based on imagery collected by instruments aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, inventories over 1,000 candidate caves and other peculiar-looking features on Mars. (Think of it as the first Martian multiple listing service.)…

(12) YOU MAY THINK YOU KNOW THIS STORY. So the cricket says. Netflix dropped this trailer for Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio today.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Hampus Eckerman, Steve Vertlieb, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 9/17/22 The Last Scroll Title On Earth Sat Alone In A Room

(1) JAYMEE GOH ANTHOLOGY HAS EKPEKI STORY. Don’t Touch That, an anthology about parenting edited by Jaymee Goh, was released this week. It includes Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki’s latest short story “Mother’s Love, Father’s Place”. He says, “It’s a historical fantasy story set in southern Nigeria and touches on the killing of Twins in Calabar & how it ended. (spoiler, not by Mary Slessor).”

(2) NO TURNING BACK! The New Yorker remembers “The Enduring Allure of Choose Your Own Adventure Books”.

You were a girl who wanted to choose your own adventures. Which is to say, you were a girl who never had adventures. You always followed the rules. But, when you ate an entire sleeve of graham crackers and sank into the couch with a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you got to imagine that you were getting into trouble in outer space, or in the future, or under the sea. You got to make choices every few pages: Do you ask the ghost about her intentions, or run away? Do you rebel against the alien overlords, or blindly obey them?

This was the late eighties in Los Angeles. You binged on these books, pulling tattered sun-bleached copies from your bookshelf: four, five, six in the course of a single afternoon. All over the country, all over the world, other kids were pulling these books from their bookshelves, too. The series has sold more than two hundred and seventy million copies since its launch, in 1979. It’s the fourth-best-selling children’s-book series of all time. Its popularity peaked in the eighties, but the franchise still sells about a million books a year….

The story of Choose Your Own Adventure is largely the tale of two men: Edward Packard, a lawyer who came up with the concept while telling bedtime stories to his two daughters (who sometimes wanted the protagonist to do different things), and R. A. (Ray) Montgomery, an independent publisher who put out Packard’s first book, in 1976, after all the big houses had rejected it….

Both men went through divorces shortly before the series started gaining momentum, and ended up writing many of their books as single fathers. Their children remember helping their fathers invent and flesh out new scenarios: Packard’s daughter Andrea suggested the idea of a time-travelling cave; Montgomery’s sons, Anson and Ramsey, suggested cars (the Saab 900 Turbo, the Lancia Stratos) for “The Race Forever.” Packard paid his children thirty-five cents an hour to read his manuscripts and offer feedback: Which parts were boring? Which choices would kids enjoy? (Andrea, Anson, and Ramsey ended up writing for the franchise, publishing their first Choose books during college.)…

(3) INTERIOR LIFE OF THE ARTIST. Melissa Capriglione is “just journaling some thoughts” – that we probably can all relate to in our own way.

(4) RECIDIVIST. Bob Roehm posted a clever photo on Facebook taken after he was apprehended with a banned book – Fahrenheit 451 – at Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, KY.  

(5) THE DNA OF THE DEATH STAR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The San Francisco Chronicle looks at how John Dysktra built the Death Star in Star Wars based on his work in 1972 building a realistic model of Berkeley. “This obscure Bay Area study shaped the ending of ‘Star Wars’”.

The newly released six-part Disney Plus streaming docuseries “Light & Magic” goes deep into the history of George Lucas’ San Francisco-based special effects studio Industrial Light & Magic, which was founded in 1975. The ending of the second episode explores the process behind the Death Star scene, in which the fate of the Rebel Alliance hangs on Luke Skywalker’s ability to speed his X-wing through a narrow trench and blast a thermal exhaust port that is only 2 meters wide.

In reality, the entire surface of the Death Star was a hand-built model that measured approximately 15 by 40 feet. Meticulous craftsmanship contributed to the verisimilitude, but the documentary reveals that the filmmaking techniques that made the scene feel so real are actually rooted outside the realm of special effects. It turns out that the entire sequence hinged on a model developed during an urban planning study at UC Berkeley in the early 1970s, which also happened to shape the future of San Francisco’s skyline.

“The Berkeley Experiment,” as it is referred to in the documentary, was funded by the National Science Foundation and led by urban planning professor Donald Appleyard at the school’s Environmental Simulation Lab. Completed in 1972, the project entailed building a small-scale model of Marin County and a computer-controlled stop-motion 16 mm camera system. The goal was to achieve a sense of realism as a model car traversed the miniature cityscape, in hopes that the technique could guide civic decision-making regarding construction choices. …

An archival photo of the UC Berkeley Environmental Simulation Laboratory.

(6) ATTACK OF THE 50-YEAR-OLD CONVENTION. Rob Hansen draws on contemporary reports by Fred Pohl, Rob Holdstock, Sam Long, Bob Shaw and many others to reconstruct the events of “Chessmancon (1972)”. Many photos, too, including GoH Larry Niven giving a physics lecture?

CHESSMANCON, the twenty-third post-war UK National Science Fiction Convention, took place over the weekend of Friday, 31st March to Monday, 3rd April 1972. Named for both its location (Chester) and the city (Manchester) from whose Delta Group most of those organising it were drawn, CHESSMANCON was the fourth MANCON, the others being MANCON, SUPERMANCON, and THIRDMANCON.

…Presumably because of its name, the organisers of CHESSMANCON decided to include a chess tournament. Sadly, I don’t think SUPERMANCON made any reference to Clark Kent, or THIRDMANCON any reference to Harry Lime. So far as I’m aware, CHESSMANCON is the only con to be named after *two* cities.

And here’s another excerpt —

BOB SHAW:

I suppose that in what purports to be a con report one should make some mention of the official programme. Regrettably, I have a tendency to go to conventions and not see any of the programme items, but this doesn’t mean that the programme isn’t important to me. I like to be near the programme and let it induce currents in me, a coil of nerves in the vicinity of the con hall’s electromagnetic field. Some other fans feel the same way (I won’t name any names) and it is pleasant to sit with them in the bar, speculating on what is actually happening in the hall and listening to fragmentary reports from runners – “George Hay has got up to ask a question”, “The projector has broken down”, “There’s been an outbreak of sporran rash among the Scottish fans”, “George Hay is still asking his question”….

(7) RAMMING SPEED. Science is watching as “NASA’s asteroid deflection mission takes aim”.

On 26 September, an act of targeted violence will unfold 11 million kilometers from  Earth,  as  a  spacecraft  about  the size  of  a  vending  machine  smashes into a small asteroid at 6 kilometers per   second.   Unlike   some   asteroids that stray worrisomely close to Earth’s orbit, Dimorphos—the 160-meter moon of a larger body—is  an  innocent  bystander,  posing  no threat to our world. But the looming assault represents humanity’s first-ever field test of a planetary defense mission: NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART. The  hope  is  that  the  collision  will  nudge Dimorphos  toward  its  780-meter  partner, Didymos,  shortening  a  nearly  12-hour  orbital period by minutes. A successful strike would support the idea that, in the future, similar efforts could deflect threatening asteroids onto safer courses. But simulations and lab experiments show the fate of the mission  depends  on  a  crucial  question: Are  such  small  asteroids  solid  boulders or—as astronomers increasingly believe—loose heaps of rubble?…

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1964 [By Cat Eldridge.] Bewitched premiered on ABC fifty-eight years ago this evening.

Creator Sol Saks’ said his basis for this series were I Married a Witch,  the 1942 film that came from Thorne Smith’s unfinished novel The Passionate Witch, and the John Van Druten Broadway play Bell, Book and Candle, which was adapted into the 1958 film. Yes, both films were properties of Columbia Pictures, which also owned Screen Gems, which also produced Bewitched.

The show was popular, finishing as the second-rated show in America during its debut season, staying in the top ten for its first three seasons, and ranking in eleventh place for both seasons four and five.

It starred, as you well know, Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens, Dick York for the first, and Dick Sargent for the rest of the series, as Darrin Stephens. Agnes Moorehead as Endora was really the only other ongoing character. 

Look I need no SPOILER ALERTS here as y’all know the characters, the setting and the story. I bet everyone here has seen some or all of it. 

Historical note here.

Series director William Asher started rehearsals for the pilot on November 22, 1963 which of course coincided with President Kennedy’s assassination.  He felt deeply affected by the event as he personally knew Kennedy — he had produced the 1962 televised birthday party where Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”.

End historical note. Back to the series.

The Stephens house, inside and out, was inspired by a location used in two Gidget movies. Gidget was filmed in 1959 at a real house at 267 18th Street in Santa Monica. The blueprints of this house were later reversed and replicated as a house facade attached to an existing garage on the backlot of Columbia’s Ranch. This was the house seen on Bewitched

Then, the patio and living room sets seen in Columbia’s Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) were adapted as the permanent Bewitched set for 1964. (At least some episodes of I Dream of Jeannie also were filmed using this interior set which makes sense as it’s the same production company. Using material from one series or film on another is very, very economical.) 

Bewitched lasted eight seasons and two hundred fifty episodes. Both the opening and closing animated credits were produced by Hanna-Barbera. Naturally they are on YouTube.

No, I’m not mentioning or discussing the reboot. I’m really not.

As near as I can tell, Bewitched is only streaming for free, errr, on Freevee. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 17, 1885 George Cleveland. He was Professor Hensley aboard the Thirties Flash Gordon film serial. IMDb says that he was supposed be in 1938’s Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars, but his bits ended up not being in the film. (Died 1957.)
  • Born September 17, 1908 John Creasey. English crime and SF writer who wrote well over than six hundred novels using twenty-eight different names. His SF writings were mostly in the Dr. Palfrey series, a British secret service agent named Dr. Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey, who forms Z5. There’s a lot of his novels available from the usual suspects. And I do many really a lot, so I’m going to ask all of you where to start reading his SF novels as I am curious as to how they are. (Died 1973.)
  • Born September 17, 1917 Art Widner. He was a founding member of The Stranger Club which created Boston fandom. He chaired Boskone I and Boskone II which were held in 1941 and 1942, they being the very first two Boston cons. Fancyclopedia 3 has a very detailed  look at him here. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 17, 1920 Dinah Sheridan. She was Chancellor Flavia in “The Five Doctors”, a Doctor Who story that brought together the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Doctors. Richard Hurndall portrayed the First Doctor, as the character’s original actor, William Hartnell, had died. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 17, 1920 Roddy McDowall. He is best known for portraying Cornelius and Caesar in the original Planet of the Apes film franchise, as well as Galen in the television series. He’s Sam Conrad in The Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” and he voices Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in Batman: The Animated Series. And where’s a treat for you. Here he is on The Carol Burnett Show wearing his Planet of the Apes makeup. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 17, 1939 Sandra Gimpel, 83. Performer and stunt woman. Though you’ll literally not recognize her, she was the salt monster aka the M-113 creature (as it was called in the credits) in “The Man Trap” episode of the original Trek. In “The Cage” episode, she played a Talosian. As a stunt woman, she’s been on genre shows ranging from Lost in Space to Lucifer and even appeared on films like Escape from New York
  • Born September 17, 1950 Roger Stern, 72. Comics writer who’s most noted work who was on AvengersCaptain AmericaDoctor Strange, and Starman. I’m very, very impressed of his work on the first twenty-eight issues of Starman, which were published from 1988 to 1990. 
  • Born September 17, 1979 Neill Blomkamp, 43. South African born Canadian filmmaker of District 9 which was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Aussiecon 4. EofSF says also, “Of particular note were Tetra Vaal (2004), a RoboCop-inspired advertisement for a fictional range of third-world law-enforcement drones; Alive in Joburg (2005), about an influx of Alien immigrants from a Spaceship stalled over Johannesburg; and Tempbot (2006), about a Robot office worker attempting to parse cubicle culture.” Other genre films include Elysium and Chappie.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close to Home’s joke probably really isn’t about the first thing that came to my mind.
  • Lio today is a real sinus friction story.

(11) NEW SUPERHERO CASTING CONTROVERSY. “With an Israeli Superhero, Marvel Wades Into an Intractable Conflict” reports the New York Times.

It was the latest addition to a fantasy world populated by an ever-growing cast of superheroes and villains: Marvel Studios announced this past week that it had cast the Israeli actress Shira Haas to play Sabra, a mutant Israeli police officer-turned-Mossad agent, in the next installment of the “Captain America” franchise.

While Jewish Israelis rejoiced at the casting of an actress from Israel as a superhero in a major Hollywood production (“Israeli Pride,” declared the Hebrew news site Maariv), the backlash among Palestinians and their supporters was swift, and #CaptainApartheid soon appeared on social media.

Many critics expressed outrage about Sabra’s character and her identity as an Israeli intelligence agent, accusing Marvel of buying into Zionist propaganda; of ignoring, or supporting, Israel’s occupation of territory captured in 1967; and of dehumanizing Palestinians….

(12) HE CAN DO IT! Paul Weimer takes up the challenge of reviewing the latest entry in a long-running series: “Microreview [book]: The Untold Story by Genevieve Cogman” at Nerds of a Feather.

How does one really review the 8th(!) book in a series and make that review intelligible to readers who have never read any of the books, and yet helpful to readers both old and new alike. This is the situation where I find myself talking about Genevieve Cogman’s The Untold Story, eighth in her Invisible Library novels. 

I’ll start by saying that the Invisible Library novels, which the first was published in 2016, were multiverse before the multiverse was the new hotness. Imagine a multiverse of worlds , aligned on an order-chaos spectrum a la Moorcock. Imagine these worlds taking cues from Earth cultures and societies.  Imagine two sets of superhuman beings–Dragons, representing order, and Fae, representing chaos, struggling for control and domination of these worlds.  Now imagine a third power, a third party, the Library, seeking to stabilize the worlds, and collect books from all of them at the same time.   

Irene Winters is one of these interdimensional Librarians. Her previous adventures have had her tangle with a traitor to the library (Alberich, more on him anon) deal with both Fae and Dragon politics (her first assistant is a Dragon, and her newest apprentice is a Fae) and visit a variety of worlds in places inspired by Venice, Vienna, New York, and more….

(13) SHE DREAMS OF GENIE. Nerds of a Feather film reviewer Arturo Serrano says it is no easy task to convey the feelings roused by this movie: “Love is a freely chosen yoke in ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’”. But he does!

When one encounters an impeccably beautiful work of art, the attempt to explain it feels like a desecration. Three Thousand Years of Longing is that kind of art that you’re meant to experience more than understand. It does follow a plot, and the plot does make arguments, but to dissect those arguments risks losing sight of the experience. I can’t properly communicate to you the emotional content of this story. What I can try to do is describe what happens in it, but I will fall short of conveying all it says. This is one of those films that leave you permanently changed, and the only way for that secret alchemy to happen is to go yourself to the theater and let it wash over you….

(14) FIFTY YEARS LATER. Totally not sff, but a fascinating interview with insights about screenwriting: “Alan Alda on ‘M*A*S*H’: ‘Everybody Had Something Taken From Them’” in the New York Times.

Were there story lines that you thought “M*A*S*H” hadn’t quite tackled yet that you wanted to bring into the world of the show as a writer and director?

When I wrote, I tried to find out a little bit more about each of the characters. Who is Klinger [Jamie Farr] really? What was underneath — I almost said, what was underneath the dresses. [Laughs.] What was underneath the wearing of the dresses? Who was Margaret [Loretta Swit]?

I see on the internet that people assumed that because I was politically active, trying to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed, that in my writing I was trying to make political points, too. And I wasn’t. I really don’t like writing that passes as entertainment when it’s really propaganda. I want to hear a human story.

(15) EARLY CLUES. Jess Nevins writes about the history of Chinese detective fiction at CrimeReads: “Pre-Revolution Chinese Detective Fiction”.

Mysteries and detective fiction are usually thought of as the inventions of Edgar Allan Poe, but the truth is that they have both been popular in China for over a thousand years. The Chinese have no clear place or person of origin for mysteries and detective fiction, the way the West has Poe, but what the Chinese do have are centuries’ more mysteries and detective stories than the West does.

The first Chinese proto-mysteries—that is, mysteries who some but not all of the elements of modern mystery fiction—were the “gong’an” (“court case”) stories. Told in the form of oral performances and puppetry shows, the gong’an began appearing during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Gong’an traditionally featured incorruptible government officials solving criminal cases and bringing about justice to the guilty and restoration to those who were wronged…. 

(16) CAME TO THE WORLD IN THE USUAL WAY. CNN invites everyone to “Meet the mystery diamond from outer space”.

Scientists have debated its existence. Tiny traces provided clues. Now, researchers have confirmed the existence of a celestial diamond after finding it on Earth’s surface.

The stone, called lonsdaleite, has a hardness and strength that exceeds that of a regular diamond. The rare mineral arrived here by way of a meteorite, new research has suggested….

The revelation started to unfold when geologist Andy Tomkins, a professor at Monash University in Australia, was out in the field categorizing meteorites. He came across a strange “bended” kind of diamond in a space rock in Northwest Africa, said study coauthor Alan Salek, a doctoral student and researcher at RMIT University in Australia.

Tomkins theorized the meteorite that held the lonsdaleite came from the mantle of a dwarf planet that existed about 4.5 billion years, Salek said.

“The dwarf planet was then catastrophically struck by an asteroid, releasing pressure and leading to the formation of these really strange diamonds,” he added.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King explains why you should be nice to the annoying little guy with a squeaky voice who offers to show you a fantasy world!

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, SF Concantenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 9/11/22 Once Is Pixel Scrolls. Twice Is Files. Three Times Is Fannish Activity

(1) INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING AT ITS MOST. The news media covered the London Worldcon of 1957. They asked, “Do extraterrestrial things have much of a sex life?” Here’s a clip of the report:

ITN’s Lynne Reid Banks spoke to various creatures at the 15th World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon. Held in London, that year’s meet was dubbed “Loncon”. It was the first Worldcon to bring the global sci-fi community together outside the US.

Rob Hansen identified the fans in the video:

0.00 Jean Bogert with gun at start.
0.05 Guy with glasses looks like Sandy Sandfield 
0.06 Norman Shorrock over shoulder of guy in mask
0.12 Eric Jones interviewed
0.25 Ron Buckmaster interviewed
0.50 Frank & Belle Dietz interviewed in alien costumes. Round-faced teenager in the background is Mike Moorcock.
1.18 Guy with moustache, right rear is Ken McIntyre

Postscript: Rob Hansen: “David Pringle has pointed out that the most famous writer in that video clip is actually the interviewer, Lynne Reid Banks, and that she’s still with us.”

(2) EMERGENCY BACKUP SCROLL TITLE. I thought it was too long for the headline because long titles are one suspected reason why subscriber notifications don’t generate. However, I rather like Daniel Dern’s suggestion:

Seventy-Six Tron Clones Led The Masquerade, With 104 Lady Thors Close Behind, Followed By Rows And Rows Of Freshly-Polished 3CPO’s…

(3) CHICON 8 FINAL COVID REPORT. The Chicon 8 committee sent a wrapup email to attending members reporting a final total of 60 people who voluntarily reported they tested positive for Covid during or shortly after the Worldcon.

(4) CORA BUHLERT IN THE PAPER. “I did get at least one of the local newspapers to bite and report about my Hugo win,” says Cora. “The article isn’t online, but I included a photo of the article itself and the front page, which mentions me.” In German, of course.

 You can also see it in the online electronic edition. She’s on page 5: Aktuelle Ausgabe.

 (5) GUARDIAN’S OPINION ON FANTASY. Strangely enough, the Guardian has taken an editorial position on J.R.R. Tolkien: “The Guardian view on Tolkien: much more than special effects”.

Back at the dawn of the new millennium, an Oxford don argued, at book length, that fantasy was the most important literature of the 20th century and that the claim rested on the work of JRR Tolkien. Prof Tom Shippey was duly ridiculed by some for his heresy, with this paper describing it as “a belligerently waterwalkerargued piece of fan-magazine polemic”. Among those who Prof Shippey cited as influenced by “the master” was one Alan Garner, author of a series of beloved children’s fantasies.

How much more secure the professor’s claims look today. Garner, now 87, has just been shortlisted for the Booker prize for a novel called Treacle Walker, which, if more folky than fantastic, certainly displays its fantasy pedigree. Meanwhile, Tolkien delivered more than 25 million global viewers to Amazon Prime on the first day of its splashy new prequel to The Lord of the Rings.

…Fantasy suits the era of film and television because it is infinitely grandiose while sidestepping the need to grapple with the effect on plot of modern technology: Frodo can’t phone home. However, two decades have passed since Jackson’s films landed, so the enduring popularity of The Lord of the Rings isn’t simply tie-in fever.

From the off, Tolkien was caught in the crossfire between those who dismissed his work as escapism and others who saw in it a moral purpose forged on the killing fields of the Somme. It’s a pointless binary. “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory,” wrote the master himself. “If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”…

(6) A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. Bobby Derie is not so accepting as the Guardian when he considers the racism in the fantasy written by two icons in “Deeper Cut: The Two Masters: H. P. Lovecraft, J. R. R. Tolkien, & Racism in Fantasy” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

Lovecraft and Tolkien both held the image of the traditional English rural gentry as a kind of ideal.

Yet Lovecraft was no hobbit. While Lovecraft had an antiquarian yearning for old buildings and a rose-tinted vision of British Colonial period, his fiction was mostly set in the current day and focused on themes of degeneration, hoary survivals from the past, ancient aliens, and cults rather than a celebration or exultation of the small joys in life. While Lovcraft regretted what he called the coming “Machine Culture,” he did not ignore or decry the advancement of technology and industrialization, or exalt a rural state that had fallen into decay. Dunwich is no Shire, for all the rural trappings; it is kind of an anti-Shire, a place where old ways and habits have turned inward and strange….

(7) MAIL CALL. In another Deeper Cuts post, Bobby Derie looks at the letters exchanged between Robert E. Howard and Novalyne Price: “Her Letters To Robert E. Howard: Novalyne Price”

 …Novalyne had been aware of Bob Howard through their mutual friends in Brownwood; she had dated Howard’s good friend Tevis Clyde Smith, and he had introduced the two in 1932. Like Robert E. Howard, she was interested in becoming a writer. Now that they were both in Cross Plains, the two renewed their acquaintance…and began what would be a tumultuous on-again, off-again romance. The two dated, argued, exchanged gifts, flirted, met each other’s families, went on long drives in the country, debated, criticized each other’s fiction, quarreled and made up and quarreled again…a story chronicled in her memoir One Who Walked Alone, later made into the motion picture The Whole Wide World….

(8) IT’S FINALLY LEAP YEAR AGAIN. The time has come – Quantum Leap premieres Monday, September 19 at 10/9c on NBC, streaming next day on Peacock. “Quantum Leap: Official Trailer”.

(9) SOON TO LAUNCH. Here’s an interview with Oliver Brackenbury of the forthcoming New Edge Sword and Sorcery Magazine. (Cora Buhlert will have an essay in its first issue.) “Editor Spotlight: Interview with Oliver Brackenbury of New Edge Sword and Sorcery Magazine” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

 In your guest post on Scott Oden’s blog discussing New Edge as a mode or evolution of Sword & Sorcery fiction, you emphasize “inclusivity.” What does that mean in the context of the stories and writers you’re looking to publish?

OB: What inclusivity means to me is making sure that people outside my own demographic—white, cishet, neurotypical, able-bodied males, or just “white guys” as, for the sake of brevity, I’ll use going forward—can see themselves in both the stories and the authors creating them, ideally making them feel welcome within the community. This is key for expanding the audience of our beloved fantasy sub-genre, as well as its pool of authors.

I’ve gained firsthand experience with this in my six years volunteering with a group dedicated to promoting the western Hemisphere’s largest publicly accessible speculative fiction genre archive—The Merril Collection. Through no malice of anyone involved, in the time I’ve been with them, our group has been made up almost or entirely of white people. Our selling old paperbacks to help raise funds would often combine with 20th century publishing trends to create the scene of a couple of white people sitting behind event tables coated in covers featuring white characters written by white authors, trying to encourage the full breadth of humanity to spend a few dollars in support of the collection, while hearing our pitch for it.

All that sameness was a significant obstacle to achieving our goals, as more than one non-white individual made clear when—quite reasonably—saying “I only see white faces here.” or “I don’t see myself in what you are doing.”

Even coming back to myself, I don’t hate my fellow white guys any more than I hate IPAs, but I get frustrated when the vast majority of shelf space is filled with the same thing, whether it’s beer or writerly perspectives. All of this has informed the approach I’m taking with the stories and authors I’m looking to publish.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1964 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ok, I confess. I really, really loved the original Mary Poppins which came out fifty-eight years ago. No I didn’t see it until (I think) a decade or so later but I immediately loved it.

Mike Glyer notes that “She doesn’t only fly. At least in the 1964 movie she has a suitcase that must be related to the TARDIS, all the stuff she pulls out of it. And her boyfriend has the ‘luck’ superpower!”

It was directed by Robert Stevenson from the screenplay by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi as based off P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series. It was produced by Walt Disney and starred Julie Andrews in her first acting role. Principal other cast were Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns. The film was shot entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, using painted London background scenes.

It won’t surprise you that the film received universal acclaim from film critics, and that Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke got lavish praise. Box office wise, it earned some forty-five million dollars on an estimated budget of four or so million dollars (Disney never released the budget officially, something they do quite often) and it’s had at least another hundred million in box office rentals since then. Not to mention DVD and such sales.

It was the only one of his films which earned Disney a Best Picture nomination during his lifetime.

In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

A biographical drama on the making of the film, Saving Mr. Banks, was released nine years ago. It was well received with The Hollywood Reporter saying the film was an “affecting if somewhat soft-soaped comedy drama, elevated by excellent performances.”

But that’s not where this story ends. As Charles de Lint once said, “There are no happy endings… There are no endings, happy or otherwise. We all have our own stories which are just part of the one Story that binds both this world and Faerie. Sometimes we step into each others’ stories – perhaps just for a few minutes, perhaps for years – and then we step out of them again. But all the while, the Story just goes on.” And so it is with the Mary Poppins story. 

Did I mention that P.L.Travers loathed this film with all her heart save Andrews as Poppins? Well she really did. Which complicated making a sequel. When Disney personally went to her a year later seeking rights to a sequel, she rejected it vehemently. Twenty years on did not at all mellow her, so she rejected them yet again save Andrews playing Poppins. And the use of the color red. Don’t ask. 

With approval from Travers’ estate (see death helps clear rights as does offering presumably offering up the estate large sums of money), Disney greenlit the project with the film taking place twenty-five years after the first one was set and having a stand alone narrative that was based on the remaining seven books in the series. 

That sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was released four years ago. It was well received too. Dick Van Dyke, a cast member of the original film, appears in the film as Mr. Dawes Jr., a role originated by Arthur Malet in the previous film. 

And Angela Lansbury is the Balloon Lady. The part was written as a cameo role for Julie Andrews who portrayed Mary Poppins in the original film, but she turned the role down as she felt her presence would unfairly take attention away from Emily Blunt who plays Mary Poppins here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 11, 1856 Richard Ganthony. OK, this is going to a little bit explaining. Imagine that an author decided to riff off Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. With Martians. Seriously. A Message from Mars is a play primarily written by him, first performed at London’s Avenue Theatre in November 1899. The play is about Horace Parker, a Grinch-like man. Horace refuses go with Minnie, his fiancé, to a ball because he wants to stay home reading about new discoveries about the planet Mars. He falls asleep and dreams that he is visited by a Messenger from Mars. The Messenger trys to cure Horace of his selfishness. After a series of visions, the Messenger in the last Visio has him as a beggar in rags. Having realized the error of his ways, he awakens a changed man. It was filmed twice, both times as A Message from Mars (1913 and 1921, and I’m assuming as silent movies given their dates). It would be novelized by Lester Lurgan. (Died 1924)
  • Born September 11, 1929 Björn Nyberg. A Swedish writer known largely for his Conan stories which given that he wrote just one non-Conan story makes sense. His first book in the series was The Return of Conan which was revised for publication by L. Sprague de Camp. Likewise, they later did Conan the AvengerConan the VictoriousConan the Swordsman and Sagas of Conan. The latter two are available on iBooks and Kindle. (Died 2004.)
  • Born September 11, 1928 Earl Holliman, 94. He’s in the cook in Forbidden Planet and he shares a scene with Robbie the Robot. A few short years later, he’s Conrad in Visit to a Small Planet though it’ll be nearly fifteen before his next genre role as Harry Donner in the Six Million Dollar Man’s Wine, Women and War TV film. He shows up as Frank Domino in the Night Man series, an adaptation of a Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse character. What the Frell is that publisher?!? Surprisingly he’s done no other genre series beyond being in the original Twilight Zone series premiere as Mick Ferris in the “Where Is Everybody?” episode. 
  • Born September 11, 1930 Jean-Claude Forest. Forest became famous when he created Barbarella, which was originally published in France in V Magazine in 1962.  In 1967 it was adapted by Terry Southern and Roger Vadim and made into 1968 film of that name with Jane Fonda in the lead role, with him acting as design consultant.  It was considered an adult comic by the standards of the time. An animated Barbarella series was booted around in the Sixties but never made. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 11, 1941 Kirby McCauley. Literary agent and editor, who as the former represented authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. And McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention, an event he conceived with T. E. D. Klein and several others. As Editor, his works include Night Chills: Stories of Suspense, FrightsFrights 2, and Night Chills. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 11, 1965 Catriona (Cat) Sparks, 57. Winner of an astounding eighteen Ditmar Awards for writing, editing and artwork, her most recent in 2021 for her Dark Harvest story collection. She won two in the same year in 2014 when her short story “Scarp” was awarded a Ditmar for Best Short Story and The Bride Price a Ditmar for Best Collected Work.  She has just one novel to date, Lotus Blue, but has an amazing amount of short stories which are quite stellar. Lotus Blue and The Bride Price are both available on the usual suspects.
  • Born September 11, 1970 Colson Whitehead, 52. Winner of the Arthur Clarke C. Award for The Underground Railroad. Genre wise, he’s not a prolific writer, he’s written but two other such works, The Intuitionists and Zone One. He’s written but one piece of short genre fiction, “The Wooden Mallet”.  However he’s written seven other works including John Henry Days which is a really interesting look at that legend, mostly set at a contemporary festival about that legend. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Popeye vs Credential. Guess who wins?
  • Crankshaft has a crossover from the Hi and Lois strip.

(13) WHEN CONAN RESCUED TED WHITE. Brian Murphy celebrated the magazine Fantastic and its contribution to the sword and sorcery boom of the 1960s and 1970s: “A Fantastic Chapter for Conan and Sword-and-Sorcery” at DMR Books.

The late 1960s and early ‘70s were peak sword-and-sorcery. The Lancer Conan Saga was at its zenith of popularity, eventually selling by some estimates upwards of 10 million copies. Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock were seeing broad mass market paperback publication, Leiber with Swords and Deviltry and Swords Against Death (Ace, 1970) and Moorcock with the likes of the first Corum trilogy (Berkley Medallion, 1971). And as the ‘60s gave way to the ‘70s a struggling magazine was about to get a signal boost from S&S’s mightiest hero.

As Ted White found out during his tenure as editor of the digest-sized Fantastic Science Fiction & Fantasy Stories/Fantastic Science-Fiction/Fantastic Stories of Imagination, best known as Fantastic, the public appetite for Conan ran deep, and was not slaked by the Lancers.…

Circulation remained flat, but White finally got the boost he was looking for when he began publishing stories of S&S’ mightiest hero: Conan, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, was about to tread the digest size pages of Fantastic under his sandalled feet, in the form of four new stories by Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp….

(14) FAKE NEWS. The New York Times recounts how “Galileo Forgery’s Trail Leads to Web of Mistresses and Manuscripts”.

When the University of Michigan Library announced last month that one of its most prized possessions, a manuscript said to have been written by Galileo around 1610, was in fact a 20th-century fake, it brought renewed attention to the checkered, colorful career of the man named as the likely culprit: Tobia Nicotra, a notorious forger from Milan.

Nicotra hoodwinked the U.S. Library of Congress into buying a fake Mozart manuscript in 1928. He wrote an early biography of the conductor Arturo Toscanini that became better known for its fictions than its facts. He traveled under the name of another famous conductor who had recently died. And in 1934 he was convicted of forgery in Milan after the police were tipped off by Toscanini’s son Walter, who had bought a fake Mozart from him.

His explanation of what had motivated his many forgeries, which were said to number in the hundreds, was somewhat unusual, at least according to an account of his trial that appeared in The American Weekly, a Hearst publication, in early 1935.

“I did it,” the article quoted him as saying, “to support my seven loves.”

When the police raided Nicotra’s apartment in Milan, several news outlets reported, they found a virtual forgery factory, strewn with counterfeit documents that appeared to bear the signatures of Columbus, Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Martin Luther, Warren G. Harding and other famous figures.

Investigators had also found a sort of shrine to his seven mistresses, at least according to The American Weekly. …

(15) POSTSCRIPT FOR PAT CADIGAN’S 9/10 BIRTHDAY. [Item by John Hertz.] When she was Toastmaster at MidAmericon II, I contributed this (acrostic, in 5-7-5-syllable lines) to the newsletter.

Passing all measure,
Ardent, courageous, comic,
Taking each moment

(16) PURE COMMERCIAL IMAGINATION. Mashed gives its pitch for “Discontinued Wonka Candy That Needs To Make A Comeback”.

Unfortunately, fans of the fictional-turned-reality candy empire had been watching supplies dwindle over the decades, and the vast majority of Wonka candies have been discontinued as of 2022. In fact, the Wonka brand itself was eventually retired after being acquired by Nestlé in 1988, according to The Christian Science Monitor. The Wonka brand was sold off in 2018, and the remaining candies found a new home with Ferrero (via The Motley Fool).

Surprising, Wonka Candy isn’t entirely extinct.

… While many Wonka candies have completely vanished from store shelves, others can still be found if you know where and what to look for. Back in the days of the Willy Wonka Candy Company, Kazoozles offered a different flavor profile than the iconic chocolate bars. The Twizzler-like sweets had a tart fruity taste starting with the original cherry punch flavor, according to Snack History. In 2015 when the Wonka brand was acquired by Nestlé, Kazoozles was rebranded and re-released under the now-familiar SweeTARTS Ropes candy….

(17) DINOMUMMY. “Quick-dried Lystrosaurus ‘mummy’ holds clues to mass death in the Triassic”Nature explains the research.

The fossilized skin of young mammal-like reptiles hints that drought led to their demise some 250 million years ago, at the start of the Triassic period1.

A few millennia before their deaths, climate change thought to be caused by volcanic eruptions led to the Permian extinction, the largest mass-extinction event in Earth’s history. Among the small number of animals to survive the cataclysm were reptiles in the genus Lystrosaurus.

While looking for clues to what the climate was like after the mass extinction, Roger Smith at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his colleagues uncovered the remains of 170 four-limbed animals in South Africa’s Karoo Basin. Among the tangled remains, the researchers found young Lystrosaurus of two species that had died in clusters around what was once a dry riverbed.

Several of the younglings were in a spreadeagled position seen in some animals when they collapse from heat exhaustion. Two of the fossils also had what appeared to be mummified skin, which probably formed through rapid drying after death.

Together, this evidence points to a mass die-off of young Lystrosaurus owing to heat and water shortages, suggesting that the climate after the Permian extinction underwent periods of drought.

Primary research here.

(18) DAN DARE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BCC posted this clip in which Patrick Stenson interviews Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson in this clip from 1975.

(19) HE ISN’T SPOCK. (OKAY, HE LIED). [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Leonard Nimoy chats with the BBC’s Terry Wogan in January 1989 about his autobiography I Am Not Spock, how he became a director, and how in classic Star Trek he was so “emotional” “it was like doing Mutiny On The Bounty” in this clip which dropped yesterday.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Ersatz Culture, Cora Buhlert, Steven French, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]

Travel Back to 1957 in Hansen’s History of the First UK Worldcon

The cover photo shows the three Hugo Awards that were presented, held by E.J. (Ted) Carnell, editor of New Worlds (best British prozine), John W. Campbell Jr, editor of Astounding (best American prozine), and John Victor Peterson representing Science-Fiction Times (best fanzine, formerly Fantasy Times).

You know that phrase “putting the world in Worldcon”? The first step toward that utopian goal was the London Worldcon of 1957. You can learn all about the con and the kerfuffles in Rob Hansen’s 1957: The First UK Worldcon, the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads. 

The 65,000-word book, compiled from contemporaneous participants’ own words, is available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. Find it here.

From Rob Hansen’s Foreword

So why the 1957 Worldcon? Because it was a singularly significant and important event in the history of fandom. Not only was it the first Worldcon to be held outside North America, it was in many ways the first true world convention, pulling in as it did fans from more countries than had ever attended a single convention before. It was also the first time that UK and US fans met en masse. Yes, a handful of US and Canadian fans had been posted to the UK while serving in their armed forces during WW2, contacting local fans while over here, but these meetings had been individual and sporadic. And in terms of legacy, LONCON started the tradition of there being a British Worldcon once every calendar decade (1957, 1965, 1979, 1987, 1995, 2005, 2014, 2024). That’s three in London, three in Glasgow, and two in Brighton, with the longest gap between Worldcons being fourteen years, and the shortest being eight.

As well as firsts, the 1957 Worldcon is also notable as a last, being the final SF convention held before the start of the Space Age: Sputnik launched a few weeks afterwards.

And when it was over, as readers will learn, the outcome was less like utopia and more like fandom: some Americans stiffed the con hotel, the committee lost money, and the U.S. charter flight organizer sued his fannish creditors for defamation. I’m sorry, was this half-a-century ago or yesterday?

Pixel Scroll 5/21/22 The Appertainment of Item-Fifth

(1) MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. Cora Buhlert rocked Twitter with another #MastersOfTheUniverse action figure photo story. Thread starts here. Don’t miss it!

(2) GENRE BOOKS TARGETED FOR BAN. The Washington Post’s Hannah Natanson says two Virginia Republican state legislators have asked courts to ban Maia Kobabe’s graphic novel Gender Queer and Sarah J. Maas’s fantasy A Court Of Mist And Fury from Virginia Beach libraries and prohibit Barnes and Noble from selling the book to children under 18.  A Court Of Mist And Fury has also been placed on book-banning lists in Florida, Idaho, and Texas. “Virginia Republicans seek to prevent Barnes & Noble from selling ‘Gender Queer’ and ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’”.

… The request for restraining orders comes two days after retired judge Pamela Baskervill issued a ruling in the suit finding “probable cause” that both books qualify as obscene. Per a little-known and little-used section of Virginia law, the judge’s formal declaration of obscenity opened the pathway for Anderson to request the restraining orders. A retired judge is ruling because the other judges in Virginia Beach recused themselves, according to Anderson….

(3) WANT LIST. Walker Martin has posted his “Windy City Pulp Convention 2022 Report” at Mystery*File.

…I’ve been collecting now for over 65 years and I don’t need much anymore, but I always find something. This year I’m rebuilding some of my sets such as All Western and Dime Detective. I found several copies of each that I need plus an Ace High from 1926 that I’ve been looking for.

   One of the problems of collecting for a long time is that you start to run out of things to collect. Most of my wants are very odd and hard to find, such as the five Sea Stories I lack. There were 118 and I have 113, so it’s not too likely that I’ll find issues I need. Same thing with Western Story and Detective Story. I only need a few issues of each for complete sets, but I’ll probably never find them. But you never know. I never thought I’d find all 444 All Story either but I did….

(4) DO NOT PASS GO. “Stranger Things Season 4 Spoiled by Monopoly Game; Creators Angry at Netflix” says The Hollywood Reporter. The game images are not linked at the article. Nevertheless, BEWARE SPOILERS.

Images have leaked online from an official Monopoly board game tie-in pegged to the long-awaited new season of the retro sci-fi hit….

…Netflix wasn’t happy about the mishap. But they weren’t nearly as displeased as the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, who sources say weren’t consulted about the game. Matt and Ross Duffer have long valued maintaining story secrecy and were said to have had a “total meltdown” about the mishap.

A Reddit thread devoted to the leak claimed the game was bought at “a nationally recognized retailer and purchased fair and square by a consumer. Nobody stole it; nobody leaked a sample.” Those purchase details are unconfirmed, however. Retailers are currently advertising Stranger Things Monopoly games pegged to past seasons, though a couple purported copies of the season four version are being advertised on eBay….

(5) THE FIRST EIGHT MINUTES. Now that we’ve said all those bad things about spoiling the next season of Stranger Things, we’ll hypocritically link to SYFY Wire’s invitation to watch the “Stranger Things 4 season premiere sneak peek” – an eight-minute clip.

The fourth season of Stranger Things is still a week away, but you can whet your appetite for ’80s nostalgia with the first eight minutes from the premiere, which opens in September 1979 and brings back Matthew Modine as Dr. Brenner (one of the lead scientists at Hawkins Laboratories who helped Elven hone her abilities). A de-aged Millie Bobby Brown also makes an appearance, but we won’t be spoiling any of the specifics beyond that because it’s pretty chilling stuff.

(6) NOT JUST ANY CRANK. Anyone who cherishes the days of mimeographed fanzines will appreciate Rob Hansen’s photos documenting his visit to “The Roneo Sculpture”.

For over a year now I’ve been visiting Roneo Corner in East London, so named because it was the site of the former duplicator factory. Though it’s not why I travel to the area I usually also shop in the Tesco supermarket there which is considerably larger than my local one with a consequently more varied range of foodstuffs. Where the entrance to the car park branches off from the main road is a triangle on which they planted a tiny wood. I’d never paid much attention to this, but today for some reason I did – and discovered a sculpture of a duplicator!

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1985 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Ray Bradbury Theatre which first aired thirty-seven years ago on this night had a complicated broadcast history.  It had first ran for two seasons on First Choice Superchannel in Canada and then HBO in the United States from 1985 to 1986, and then on the USA Network for four more seasons from 1988 to 1992 with those episodes also being broadcast on the Global Television Network in Canada from 1991 to 1994.

It was created by Bradbury and starred him with whatever guest stars there were that week. I’ve written up an essay on one such episode, “Gotcha”, and that gives a good look on the feel of these stories. I’d say they’re much lighter, much gentler that The Twilight Zone ever was.

All sixty-five episodes of the Ray Bradbury Theatre were written by Ray Bradbury, based on short stories or novels he had previously written. Obviously they were not exact adaptations of the stories or novels as they had to fit into twenty-three minute long story format. 

Name your favorite actor and it’s likely that he or she appeared here. Why even Captain Kirk did! Well William Shatner did in “The Playground” as Charles Underhill. The short story first appeared in Esquire, October 1953 before making its first book appearance in Dark Carnival and then appearing in The Illustrated Man.

So what do critics think of it? Most liked it, a few though it, well, hokey. A few hated it which suggested they needed a serious attitude adjustment. 

I think personally think that Orrin Grey of The Portalist summed it up best so I’m going to use just his comment here: “If you’re a fan of the legendary science fiction writer and you’ve never seen the show, it’s an opportunity like no other to see the master’s work adapted to the screen by his own hand. If you’re new to Bradbury, it’s a perfect primer for what you can expect from his inimitable short stories.” 

That photo below which is used at beginning of the episodes is the real office of Bradbury. How cool is that? 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 21, 1889 Arthur Hohl. He’s Mr. Montgomery, the man who helps Richard Arlen and Leila Hyams to make their final escape in Island of Lost Souls, the 1932 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau which is considered the first such filming of that novel. Genre adjacent or genre depending on how generous you are, he’ll show later in The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThe Three Musketeers and The Devil-Doll. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 21, 1903 Manly Wade Wellman. I remember reading the John the Balladeer collection thatKarl E. Wagner did and then seeking out the rest of those stories. Absolutely amazing stuff! I also read The Complete John Thunstone a few years back — strongly recommended as it’s quite stellar. What else by him should I read? (Died 1986.)
  • Born May 21, 1917 Raymond Burr. Speaking of lawyers, we have the Birthday of the man who played Perry Mason.  It looks the 1949 film Black Magic with him playing Dumas, Jr. was his first genre performance. Bride of the Gorilla was his next with Lou Chaney Jr. co-starring and Curt Siodmak directing. He goes on to be Grand Vizier Boreg al Buzzar in The Magic Carpet before being Vargo in Tarzan and the She-Devil. And finally he’s in a Godzilla film, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! To be precise as Steve Martin. And unfortunately he played the same role in Godzilla 1985 which earned him a Golden Raspberry Award. (Died 1993.)
  • Born May 21, 1918 Jeanne Bates. She’s Diana Palmer in the Forties The Phantom serial, possibly the first one done. Her first genre was as Miss Norcutt in The Return of the Vampire, in a not authorized sequel to Lugosi’s 1931 Universal Studios film Dracula. Most of the films she’s known for are such horror films such as The Soul of a Monster and Back from the Dead. (Died 2007.)
  • Born May 21, 1940 Booker Bradshaw. A record producer, film and TV actor, and Motown executive. He’s here because he’s one of those rare secondary characters that showed up more than once on Trek. He played Dr. M’Benga in “Obsession” and “That Which Survives”. Because his background story was that he served under Captain Christopher Pike, his character has been recast on Strange New Worlds and is played by Babs Olusanmokun. (Died 2003.)
  • Born May 21, 1954 Paul Collins, 68. Australian writer who has been nominated for an astounding twenty Ditmar Awards. In the nineties, he won a William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review for The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy published by Melbourne University Press which alas was never updated. In his twenties, he began published and edited Void Science Fiction and Fantasy, a semi-prozine.

(9) V’GER ON LINE 2. “Nasa puzzled by ‘mysterious’ signals from Voyager space probe” according to MSN.com.

Nasa engineers are trying to solve a mystery taking place on its Voyager 1 spacecraft.

The space probe is apparently sending signals that ‘don’t reflect what’s actually happening onboard’.

Nasa said that the interstellar explorer was operating normally otherwise, receiving and executing commands from Earth.

While the spacecraft continues to gather and send science data and otherwise operate as normal, the mission team is searching for the source of the issue.

The problem seems to be the Voyager 1’s attitude articulation and control system (AACS) which controls the 45-year-old spacecraft’s orientation.

It’s what keeps the probe’s antenna pointed precisely at Earth, enabling it to send data home.

‘All signs suggest the AACS is still working, but the telemetry data it’s returning is invalid,’ said Nasa in a statement.

Engineers are baffled by Voyager’s seemingly randomly generated signals that do not reflect any possible state the AACS could be in.

In spite of the issue, Voyager 1’s signal hasn’t weakened, which suggests its antenna remains in its prescribed orientation with Earth.

Mysterious signals from space might seem sinister, but Nasa’s engineers don’t think it’s out of the ordinary….

(10) CAT WITH A BLOG. Global Happenings tells us “Cat Stepan from Kharkov received a prestigious award in Cannes”.

Kharkiv cat Stepan continues to collect blogging awards for his collection. The fluffy influencer won an award the day before World Influencers and Bloggers Awards 2022 for which he was nominated in April this year.

… Also, as we reported earlier, abroad the cat Stepan and his mistress are engaged in volunteer activities – the fluffy blogger helps to raise funds to help his four-legged brothers from Ukraine.

(11) CYO ADVENTURE. Austin McConnell remembers Joe Dever, whose role-playing game/choose your own adventure books made “free reading day” exciting for him in middle school in the 1980s. He talks to Dever’s son, who is helping reprint his father’s books with a small publisher. “The Fantasy Series That Took 40 YEARS To Finish”.

(12) RETRO KERFUFFLE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Cory Doctorow and Junot Diaz are interviewed in this 2016 New York Times investigation of the 1980s-era allegation that playing D&D would introduce kids to Satanism.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Peer, Rob Hansen, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 3/31/22 There’s No Way To Delay, That Pixel Scrolling Every Day

(1) LASFS IN THE FIGHTING FORTIES. [Item by David Langford.] As a direct result of comments at File 770, I’ve made Bixelstrasse generally available in paperback from Lulu.com — by agreement with Rob Hansen – with all proceeds going to TAFF. It’s a pretty hefty volume at 429pp, and there’s a map on the back cover!

Rob Hansen has compiled this substantial (194,000 words) history of the 1940s Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society from contemporary fanzine accounts, so the story emerges from the participants’ own words. Besides such famous or notorious fans as Forrest J Ackerman, Charles Burbee, Claude Degler, Francis Towner Laney, “Morojo” and “Tigrina”, we meet several well-remembered professionals including Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Harryhausen, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, Fritz Lang, Fritz Leiber and A.E. van Vogt. As Rob himself puts it: “… there have been other occasions on which fans have shared premises in varying degrees, but to have a community of fans centred around a clubroom and living in nearby rooming houses on the same street gave rise to all-week, around-the-clock fanning of a sort not seen before or since. […] This set-up, the whole ’fannish village’ they established, was immensely appealing to me in my twenties (though seeing so much of each other inevitably exacerbated personality clashes, of course). Add in the large numbers of fans from around the country who passed through Los Angeles thanks to the war, many of them processed via the Induction Center at nearby Fort MacArthur before being sent off to fight, and you have something unique in the history of fandom, a saga featuring fans and pros, communists and homosexuals, madmen and mystics, Hollywood stars and spies.”

(2) BURBEE: MORE COMPLEAT THAN EVER BEFORE. In Ansible on April 1, David Langford will announce another TAFF free ebook — The Incompleat Burbee Volume 2 — expanded from the 1996 version with further previously uncollected material. Cover art by Bill Rotsler. As always, a donation to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund is welcomed.

Charles Burbee’s earlier fanwriting was collected as The Incompleat Burbee in 1958, but he carried on being grumpy, acerbic and funny (though with longer and longer gaps between appearances) for further decades. Terry Carr planned this second volume in the 1970s and typed many stencils for a duplicated (mimeo) edition that never appeared. The stencils were passed from fan to fan until finally Jeff Schalles published The Incompleat Burbee Volume 2 as a photocopied fanzine in 1996.

This ebook contains the complete text of that 1996 edition, plus a number of further Burbee articles and stories not included either then or in 1958. These begin with an early piece for Francis Towner Laney’s The Acolyte (1946), include several classics such as the legendary “I Had Intercourse with a Glass of Water” from Terry Hughes’s Mota (1974), and end with material first published in Robert Lichtman’s Trap Door after Burbee’s much-lamented death in 1996.

(3) CANCELLED FLIGHTS. Camestros Felapton follows his series of Firefly episode reviews by speculating where it would have gone next had it stayed on the air: “Firefly Friday: Riding off into the sunset part 2”.

… I also want to talk about some of the elements that either surprised me or, I believe, would have changed if the show had lasted longer. With a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (to pick on the near-contemporary Whedon show) neither the first season nor the final season are the best examples of what the show is like. If Firefly had lasted three or four seasons it would have evolved and advocates of the show would probably be pointing to the ‘best’ episodes as ones from season 2 or 3. Star Trek: The Next Generation really improved sharply from Season 3 onwards, the most Doctor-Whoey Doctor Who is arguably Tom Baker, the FOURTH iteration of the character and multiple years into the show….

(4) STORYTELLING DECISIONS. Maryann Corbett’s review argues that Maria Dahvana Headley didn’t translate Beowulf but adapted it, and thoughtfully compares the book with the work of other translators. “The Monsters and the Translators: Grappling with Beowulf in the Third Millenium” at Literary Matters. Her review concludes:

…That narrator of Headley’s, along with a few other elements of her retelling, can make me grimace the way Professor Kendall did at my old comic book. But Headley’s book is not the comic I feared it would be after reading reviews that emphasize bro and dude; it’s an effective and enjoyable poem. I debate with myself: are my reservations fair, or are they biases built on too much early exposure to Old Stuff? I’m pleased to have read Headley. I’m more pleased to have been invited back to old books and notes and blasted forward to marvelous new ways of learning.

(5) THE HOBBITS MEN DON’T SEE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “Tolkien Estate updates website with previously unseen content” reports The Bookseller.

…The relaunch date, 26th February, is significant in Tolkien lore because 26th February 3019 was the date in the Third Age when the Fellowship of the Ring was broken at Amon Hen and Frodo and Sam set out on their journey to Mordor. 

The newly launched website, tolkienestate.com, will exhibit the literary and artistic works created by J R R Tolkien and to provide further insights into his life and times. The website includes sections on his writing, painting and calligraphy, his scholarship and letters and a timeline of his life, together with numerous family photographs. It also features an audio-visual section containing recordings and clips featuring both the author and his son, Christopher Tolkien. 

(6) A FINE TIME WAS HAD BY ALL. “The Library Ends Late Fees, and the Treasures Roll In” — the New York Times is there to admire the returning relics.

…Some items, checked out decades ago, arrived with apologetic notes. “Enclosed are books I have borrowed and kept in my house for 28-50 years! I am 75 years old now and these books have helped me through motherhood and my teaching career,” one patron wrote in an unsigned letter that accompanied a box of books dropped off at the New York Public Library’s main branch last fall. “I’m sorry for living with these books so long. They became family.”

Three DVD copies of “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,” a 2009 action film about Irish Catholic vigilantes in Boston that has a 23 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, were returned to three libraries in three different boroughs.

When New York’s public library systems announced last October that they would be eliminating all late fines, the goal was to get books and people back to the more than 200 branches, as well as research centers, across the city after a year and a half of limited hours and access.

The goal was achieved: A wave of returned overdue materials came crashing in, accompanied by a healthy increase (between 9 and 15 percent, depending on the borough) of returning visitors.

Since last fall, more than 21,000 overdue or lost items have been returned in Manhattan…

(7) REMEMBERING STEVE STILES. Michael Dobson put together a computerized slide show as a tribute to Steve Stiles’ artwork, first shown at DisCon III in conjunction with the table sales of Steve’s posthumous collection. It’s now viewable on YouTube: “Steve Stiles – An Appreciation”. The soundtrack includes music by Ted White’s band Conduit.

(8) THIRD MAN THEME. Ally WIlkes discusses “Encounters with the Supernatural in Antarctica: A Brief History” at CrimeReads.

… The benevolent third man—which John Geiger dubs the ‘saviour’ presence—appears to be something distinct from our traditional understanding of ghosts. It appears in crisis situations and interacts with the observer, even if only to provide a sense of comfort. However, the Antarctic also contains stories of encounters with a less benevolent presence. This second type of encounter, again, doesn’t fit neatly into the category of ‘ghost’, if by that we mean the spirit of a human person who has died (and often at the place in question—Antarctica poses a bit of a conundrum on this front, as although it’s certainly seen its share of deaths, its footprint of human occupation is far later and far sparser than most other places on the planet)….

(9) FILET MINION. Illumination Entertainment’s Minions: The Rise of Gru will be released in July.

Long before he becomes the master of evil, Gru (Oscar® nominee Steve Carell) is just a 12-year-old boy in 1970s suburbia, plotting to take over the world from his basement. It’s not going particularly well. When Gru crosses paths with the Minions, including Kevin, Stuart, Bob, and Otto—a new Minion sporting braces and a desperate need to please—this unexpected family joins forces. Together, they build their first lair, design their first weapons, and strive to execute their first missions. When the infamous supervillain supergroup, the Vicious 6, oust their leader—legendary martial arts fighter Wild Knuckles (Oscar® winner Alan Arkin)— Gru, their most devoted fanboy, interviews to become their newest member. The Vicious 6 is not impressed by the diminutive, wannabe villain, but then Gru outsmarts (and enrages) them, and he suddenly finds himself the mortal enemy of the apex of evil. With Gru on the run, the Minions attempt to master the art of kung fu to help save him, and Gru discovers that even bad guys need a little help from their friends.

(10) RICHARD LABONTÉ. The family obituary for Richard Labonté has been published by the Toronto Globe and Mail: “Richard LABONTE Obituary (2022)”.

As an editor of gay anthologies, co- founder of the A Different Light bookstore chain, and mentor to many authors, he was one of the most influential advocates of queer culture and literature in North America. …Throughout the 1990s, A Different Light became a centre of queer culture in California and New York, places where authors and fans met for readings and informal receptions. Over 22 years, Richard combined his bookselling career with his editorial expertise to connect authors with thousands of new readers…. 

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1985 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-seven years on ABC, Max Headroom premiered. That however was not the beginning of the phenomenon known as Max Headroom. The story is based on the Channel 4 British TV film produced by Chrysalis, Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. That short film is largely similar to the pilot of ABC series. 

The British film consisted of material intended to be broken into short segments for a music video program, The Max Headroom Show, which did premiere two days later. Max Headroom served as veejay, and its first episodes unusually featured no introductory title sequence or end credits, just Max as done by Matt Frewer in that amazing makeup blabbing away. It was a hit and several interactions were done including for the American cable network Cinemax.

Now back to Max Headroom. The dystopian series was set, as it said twenty minutes in the future in a city, if not a world dominated by media networks. Y’all know the story so I won’t say more than that. It did a splendid job of depicting a future of what was very obviously a limited budget. 

Matt Frewer, Amanda Pays and William Morgan Shepherd are the only performers that carry from the Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future version of this story. And several characters such as Dominique, Blank Reg’s Companion, don’t exist in that bleaker version of the story. No idea if that version is available on DVD. 

Max Headroom I consider to be every bit as good as Farscape or any of the better genre series. It would last but two seasons and a mere fourteen episodes before being cancelled. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 31, 1926 John Fowles. British author best remembered for The French Lieutenant’s Woman but who did several works of genre fiction, The Magus which I’ve read a long time ago and A Maggot which I’ve not read. Some works which are not genre such as The Collector just make me shudder. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 31, 1927 William Daniels, 95. He’s the voice of KITT on the Knight Rider series on the movie came afterwards. He also has genre appearances in The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, the original Kolchak: The Night StalkerThe Incredible HulkGalactica 1980Faerie Tale TheatreTouched by an Angel and a fantastic “appearence“ on Star Trek: Voyager where he’s the voice of Hospital Ship 4-2, Allocation Alpha in the “Critical Care” episode. 
  • Born March 31, 1932 John Jakes, 90. Author of a number of genre series including the Brak the Barbarian series.  Dark Gate and Dragonard are his other two series. As Robert Hart Davis, he wrote a number of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. novellas that were published in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine. The magazine apparently only existed from 1966 to 1968. 
  • Born March 31, 1934 Richard Chamberlain, 88. His first dive into our end of reality was in The Three Musketeers as Aramis, a role he reprised in The Return of Three Musketeers. (I consider all  Musketeer films to be genre.) Some of you being cantankerous may argue it was actually when he played the title character in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold which he did some years later. He’s listed as voicing the Jack Kirby-created character Highfather on the superb Justice League: Gods and Monsters but that was but a few lines of dialogue I believe. He was in the Blackbeard series as Governor Charles Eden, and series wise has done the usual one-offs on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock PresentsBoris Karloff’s ThrillerChuck and Twin Peaks.
  • Born March 31, 1936 Marge Piercy, 86. Author of He, She and It (published outside the UK as Body of Glass) was shortlisted for the Otherwise Award and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. She also wrote Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) doomed to be called a “classic of utopian speculative sf”. Woman on the Edge of Time was nominated for a Retrospective Otherwise Award (1996).
  • Born March 31, 1943 Christopher Walken, 79. A performer whose first role was in The Three Musketeers, as a minor character, John Felton. He has a minor role in The Sentinel, a horror film, and a decidedly juicy one in Trumbull’s Brainstorm as Dr. Michael Anthony Brace followed up by being in Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone as Johnny Smith. Damn, I’d forgotten he was Max Zorin, the villain in A View to a Kill! H’h, I didn’t know he was in Gibson’s New Rose Hotel but then I haven’t actually seen it yet. Is it worth seeing? And let’s wrap this up by noting his appearance in The Stepford Wives as Mike Wellington.
  • Born March 31, 1960 Ian McDonald, 62. Now here’s an author that I’ve read a lot of starting with his first novel, Desolation Road, and following through to his most recent, The Luna series. I do have favorites — the aforementioned Desolation Road and the other Mars novel, Ares Express, plus the India in 2047 series and The Dervish House  are the ones I like the best. Chaga I think is the one I need to read again as I was annoyed by it the first time. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) THE GAME’S AFOOT. Annalee Newitz was referenced on Jeopardy! last night.

(15) BEUKES ADAPTATION. Shining Girls premieres on Apple TV+ on April 29.

Based on Lauren Beukes’ best-selling novel, Shining Girls follows Kirby Mazrachi (Moss) as a Chicago newspaper archivist whose journalistic ambitions were put on hold after enduring a traumatic assault.Years after a brutal attack left her in a constantly shifting reality, Kirby Mazrachi learns that a recent murder is linked to her assault. She teams with veteran reporter Dan Velazquez (played by Wagner Moura) to understand her ever-changing present—and confront her past.

(16) BLOWN TO MORE THAN 8 BITS. “A retro computer museum in Mariupol was attacked by Russia”NPR’s news item will probably interest Chris Garcia, who used to work in a computer museum, and it will probably make him sad, too.

Nearly two decades ago, Dmitriy Cherepanov started a collection of retro computers in Mariupol, Ukraine, that grew into an internationally known assemblage of historic machines, housed in a private museum he called IT 8-bit.

Russia’s campaign to take over his city in southeast Ukraine has killed at least 2,000 civilians, destroyed most of the city’s homes and turned Cherepanov’s beloved computer museum into rubble.

“I’m very upset,” Cherepanov, 45, told NPR. “It’s been a hobby of my life.”

IT 8-bit held more than 120 examples of computer technology and game consoles from the last century. Cherepanov estimates that up to 1,500 people visited the free museum every year before he closed it at the start of the pandemic.

Cherepanov knows the small building housing the museum was bombed, like many other structures in the city, sometime after March 15. He believes that any machines that weren’t destroyed by the blast were likely taken, given the desperate circumstances in the city now.

(17) MOON RISE. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Oscar Isaac about Moon Knight and his previous roles in Marvel movies as the villain in X Men: Apocalpyse and his voice work in Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse. “Oscar Isaac, with ‘Moon Knight,’ finally rises to the Marvel A-list”.

…To prepare for the role, Isaac said, Robert Oxnam’s “A Fractured Mind: My Life with Multiple Personality Disorder” became his bible. The book is a deeply personal account of the author’s struggles and eventual acceptance of the multiple lives taking place in his mind.

“It felt like that was the orienting principle for this, because it was a real journey into this guy’s discovery and healing, which is the integration that had to occur for him to be able to live with [multiple personalities] as a functioning human being,” Isaac said….

(18) TWO CHAIRS TALKING. David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss have an excellent adventure is episode 72 of Two Chairs Talking, “A Dangerous Kind of Vision”.

We take the Hugo Time Machine back to 1968, when Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthology dominated the short fiction categories. Perry and David argue about the Best Novel winner, Lord of Light.

(19) WAS CODA THE ONLY UNDERDOG TO WIN AN OSCAR? It’s well known that CODA was an underdog in the Oscar race for Best Picture, which is further proven below. The JustWatch Streaming Guide graphic shows this trend continued in other categories as well, with winners Encanto and Drive my car being less popular than other nominees in their respective categories. 

JustWatch is an international streaming guide that helps over 20 million users per month across 100 countries to find something great to watch on Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, etc.

(20) HERE’S THE BEEF. “We Must Live in a Horrid Simulation, Because Joe Rogan Just Offered to Train Elon Musk to Fight Vladimir Putin” declares Futurism.

Sometimes it feels like our overlords are phoning it in with the stuff they’re programming into our simulation.

Exhibit A: Former UFC color commentator turned “Fear Factor” host turned notoriously dubious podcaster Joe Rogan is now offering to help Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk train so that he can fulfill his goal of kicking Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ass, presumably in retaliation for the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.

No, this isn’t the world’s dumbest round of “Cards Against Humanity” — it’s actually something the Rogan said on a recent episode of his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” in response to Musk challenging Putin to single-hand combat earlier in March.

“I offered my services,” Rogan told his guest, Aussie comedian Monty Franklin. “I texted him. I said, ‘Dude I will arrange all of your training.’ ‘If you really do fight Putin,’ I said, ‘I will arrange all your training,’”…

(21) BRAINY VIDEO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Tom Scott tosses off 14 story ideas involving brains in under six minutes!

(22) “NOVEL” IDEA: DOWSE FOR THE DEAD. [Item by Dave Doering.] It never ceases to amaze me how “reality” can be waaayyy stranger than fiction. The Marshall Report tells about cops being trained to use dowsing rods to find buried remains. “Can ‘Witching’ Find Bodies? Police Training Alarms Experts”. Surely there’s a novel idea in there…

One student asks about dowsing rods.“You want to use some?” replies Arpad Vass, an instructor at the National Forensic Academy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where law enforcement officers come to learn how to use science to solve crimes — at least in theory. “I use them on everything.”

[Vass] teaches students the proper way to dowse and some of “the 17 scientific principles that make the rods work, which took me years to figure out.”

TechDirt’s Tim Cushing is beyond skeptical: “Cops Are Being ‘Trained’ To Use Literal Witchcraft To Find Dead Bodies”.

… Alarmed? They should be apoplectic! This is insanity. That this has gone longer than Vass’ first attempt to introduce dowsing into forensic science is an indictment of both the University of Tennessee and the law enforcement agencies that still pay to have officers and investigators subjected to cop-washed black arts by a “scientist” deep in throes of self-delusion. Dowsing “works” like a Ouija board “works.” It’s an illusion that relies on self-deception. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, science.

It does not magically become a science just because Vass is capable of using science-y words or has a background in actual science….

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Triangle Strategy,” Fandom Games says this game is so dull it drags “more than a mandatory Zoom meeting”: and is equivalent to George RR Martin writing “a visual novel while on Ambien and not knowing what a visual novel was.”  As for gameplay, the narrator complains that “I don’t want my poor decision making to come to a logical conclusion.  I do that by existing.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rob Thornton, David Langford, Chris Barkley, StephenfromOttawa, Daniel Dern, Dave Doering, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 12/16/21 A Pixelness In The Scroll

(1) COLBERT’S LOTR CAST REUNION RAP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Stephen Colbert (of The Late Show) is a self-proclaimed Lord of the Rings fanatic (both the books and the movie series).His show is going on hiatus after this week for the rest of the year and Colbert bemoaned the fact that he will not be on air to celebrate Sunday’s 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of the first LOTR movie directed by Peter Jackson.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert assembled Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, pro rappers Killer Mike and Method Man, plus bandleader Jon Batiste, host Colbert, and (for reasons unknown) Anna Kendrick, to create a rap video that pounds home the dominance of the LOTR movie trilogy.

(2) LEE AND MILLER’S FREE HOLIDAY STORY. Steve Miller says he “is in a strange land far away from Worldcon” —

The plan was that our new Liaden story would hit the interwebz while we were off at Worldcon, but we dropped that plan awhile back due to the pandemic. The story came out on time, but we’re home in Maine! FWIW I had several convention dreams last night (guess I’m missing the whole crew!), but it still isn’t the same.

Yesterday some folks were having a hard time finding the new release, though, so this is a direct link to “From Every Storm A Rainbow”, our official free online Liaden Universe holiday story for 2021, which follows pretty hard on the heels of our recent “Bread Alone” chapbook, which ran a week or so as “#1 new release” under SF anthologies right at Thanksgiving. “Bread Alone’s” on sale in many venues now, but here’s the Amazon link.

Have a good holiday season, a good year, and we’re still hoping for Chicago….

Bests wishes from all of us here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory …

(3) CLARION WEST IS HIRING. The annual Clarion West Writers Workshop is looking to fill several positions – Six-Week Workshop Facilitator, Residential Workshop Administrator, and Communications Specialist. See Jobs – Clarion West for the details.

Do you believe that stories are important? Do you want to work with a diverse and passionate team to bring emerging writers to the field of speculative fiction? Do you want to support more writers of color and from traditionally underrepresented communities? Take a look at our open opportunities and see where your expertise can grow Clarion West.

(4) SITE SELECTION CONTINUES. Rich Lynch sent along this photo he took of DisCon III’s at-con Site Selection voting area.  

(5) ON YONDER SHOREHAM. Highlander tweeted a video walkthrough from the first day of DisCon III. I see John Hertz in his beanie appears around the 25-second mark.

(6) HALL COSTUMES. Ian Randal Strock tweeted a photo of cosplayers at DisCon III dressed as the TARDIS and two Doctor Who nemeses.

(7) MOFFAT TEASES WHO FANS. Radio Times plucked some juicy quotes from an hour-long conversation about Steven Moffat’s career hosted by the Oxford Union: “Steven Moffat talks Russell T Davies’ ‘fantastic’ plans for Doctor Who”.

…“I had no idea Russell was going to do that,” Moffat told Oxford Union. “He told me the night before, he sent me an email and I read it. I was just coming home from a restaurant and I thought: ‘Is that real? I’ll see if that email is still there in the morning.’

“Then I phoned him up and said, ‘Have you read [behind-the-scenes Doctor Who book] The Writer’s Tale? Have you read it? Because I think you should’,” continued Moffat. “He said, ‘I want to do it again, I’m excited, I’m thrilled.’”…

View the complete Q&A session on YouTube.

Writer of Doctor Who and Sherlock, Steven Moffat has won an Emmy award, five BAFTA Awards and four Hugo Awards. He had been a fan of Doctor Who since childhood, and is responsible for some of the most famous episodes including ‘Blink’ and ‘Silence in the Library.’ In 2015, he was appointed an Order of the British Empire for his services to drama

(8) SIGNED BY EGO. Rob Hansen has posted a real rarity at his THEN British fanhistory website – the text of a 1940s chain letter with Arthur C. Clarke as one of the participants: “FAN-MAIL (1941)”.

Here’s something I never thought I’d ever see – one of Clarke’s WW2 chain-letters. Yet, amazingly, this one has survived after 80 years. And finally seeing one has, I think, enabled me to figure out the how these chains worked, an explanation of which appears after the scans. I described them in THEN as essentially operating like APAs, but the logistics involved were a bit more complicated than that.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1987 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty four years ago, A Muppet Family Christmas first aired on ABC. It was produced not by Jim Henson (though he did executive produce it) , a rare thing indeed, but rather by Peter Harris and Eric Till from a script by Jerry Juhl who had earlier scripted the most excellent Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. For a Muppet film, it had an unusually large cast, to wit Gerry Parkes, Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Caroll Spinney, Kathryn Mullen, Karen Prell and David Rudman. 

This is one of the rare Muppet productions to feature the Muppets that were associated with all four of the major Muppet franchises: Fraggle RockMuppet Babies (who are seen here as actual puppets instead of their usual animated selves), The Muppet Show and Sesame Street

If you’ve saw it on TV and then watched it later on the North American DVD and VHS release, you might’ve notice that a lot of the original film was missing. That was because the Henson company only secured broadcast rights, not subsequent rights to songs like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” weren’t available. 

Critics generally like it. Myles McNutt of the A.V. Club said of it that was “a love letter to the Muppets as a wide-ranging, meaningful part of viewers’ childhoods.” Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most cheery eighty-eight percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 16, 1917 Arthur C. Clarke. When I was resident in Sri Lanka courtesy of Uncle Sam in the early Eighties, nearly every American ex-pat I ran into was reading The Fountains of Paradise. The tea plantations he described therein are very awesome.  I never saw him but he was well known among the small British community there and I passed by his residence one day. I’ll admit that I’ve not read that much by him — Childhood’s EndRendezvous with Rama and that novel are the only long form works by him I’ve read.  I’ve read a lot of short fiction including of course Tales from The White Hart. I’m certain I’ve read The Nine Billion Names of God collection as well. And I’ve seen 2001 myriad times but I’ve never seen the sequel. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 16, 1927 Randall Garrett. Randall Garrett. Ahhh, Lord Darcy. When writing this up, I was gobsmacked to discover that he’d written only one such novel, Too Many Magicians, as I clearly remembered reading more than that number. Huh. That and two collections, Murder and Magic and Lord Darcy Investigates, is all there is of this brilliant series. (The later Lord Darcy collection has two previously uncollected stories.) Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. is named in honor of Garrett.  I’ll admit I’ve not read anything else by him, so what else have y’all read? (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 16, 1928 Philip K. Dick. Dick has always been a difficult one for me to get a feel for. Mind you Blade Runner is my major touchstone for him but I’ve read the source material as well, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said which won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and I’ve read a lot of the shorter works, so I’d say that saying he’s a challenging writer is a Good Thing. I was surprised his only Hugo win was for at The Man in The High Castle at DisCon though Blade Runner would pick up one at ConStellation. (Died 1982.)
  • Born December 16, 1937 Peter Dickinson. Author who was married from 1991 to his death to Robin McKinley.  He had a number of truly great works, both genre and not genre, including EvaThe Tears of the Salamander and The Flight of DragonsThe Ropemaker garnered a well-deserved Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. His James Pibble upper-class British mystery series are quite excellent as well. (Died 2015.)
  • Born December 16, 1957 Mel Odom, 64. An author deep into mining franchise universes with work done into the BuffyverseOutlandersTime PoliceRogue Angel (which I’ve listen to a lot as GraphicAudio as produced them as most excellent audioworks) and weirder stuff such as the Left Behind Universe and Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers, both I think game tie-ins. 
  • Born December 16, 1961 Jon Tenney, 60. He’s best known as Special Agent Fritz Howard on The Closer and continued in its spinoff Major Crimes, but he does have genre creds. He played Jimmy Wells in The Phantom, Martin Jordon in Green Lantern, and Lt. Ching in two episodes in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He also showed up on Tales from the Crypt, Outer Limits and neXt
  • Born December 16, 1967 Miranda Otto, 54. She was Éowyn in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film franchise. (I stopped watching after The Fellowship of The Rings.) She‘s Zelda Spellman in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Mary Ann Davis in Spielberg’s version of The War of The Worlds. She also played Wueen Lenore inI, Frankenstein which had an amazing cast even if the tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes gives it a five percent rating meaning the critics really didn’t like it.

(11) GUESS WHAT? This March, make way for the new Sorcerer Supreme!

With Doctor Strange dead, another sorcerer has taken the title, or should we say Sorceress? Clea, mistress of the Dark Dimension and Stephen Strange’s powerful partner, will rise to the challenge of defending earth from mystical and otherworldly danger in writer Jed MacKay’s STRANGE #1! Featuring artwork by AMAZING SPIDER-MAN artist Marcelo Ferreira, this all-new ongoing series will spin directly out of the story still unfolding in MacKay’s DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE. 

.. Here’s what MacKay had to say about continuing this unprecedented Doctor Strange saga:

“After the apocalyptic events of The Death of Doctor Strange, there’s a new Sorcerer Supreme in residence at 177A Bleecker Street, and a new Doctor Strange- Clea Strange. And she’s got her work cut out for her- when she’s not fighting off the magical gangsters of the Blasphemy Syndicate, or battling undead super-monsters, she’s going after what’s hers: the late Stephen Strange. Clea is of the Faltine, that race of Warlords and conquerors, and like her relatives Dormammu and Umar, she will not be thwarted in her desires, not even by the mysterious Harvestman standing in her way.”

(12) NOW PLAYING. You can listen to Connie Willis and Nalo Hopkinson’s LOA Live appearance to promote American Christmas Stories on Soundcloud or watch the program on the Library of America website.

(13) FLICK PICKS. Wired presents its list of “The Best Sci-Fi Movies of 2021”. They start with Dune, but let’s skip ahead to one you haven’t read a million words about:

… Perhaps, at this stage, you’d prefer your women on the more visible side of things. If so, consider the French film Oxygen (Netflix), whose main—nearly only—character is a scientist played by the marvelous Mélanie Laurent. She wakes up in an AI-controlled cryogenic pod and must figure out how to escape it before the titular oxygen runs out. Who put her there? Where even is there? Soon enough, she begins to remember a man. A husband. The love of her life. Who died in a horrible pandemic back on Earth. Yes, that’s it: She’s part of a mission to save the human race, predicted to die out completely in two generations….

(14) A BIG DEAL. Radio Times fills us in on the new owner’s ambitions for Bad Wolf: “Doctor Who’s Bad Wolf could be biggest drama producer in UK, says Sony”.

Sony Pictures has invested £50 million into Welsh drama producer Bad Wolf, in the hopes of helping the maker of Doctor Who and His Dark Materials reach its “zenith”.

Wayne Garvie, Sony’s president of international production, recently revealed his hopes that Bad Wolf could become “the biggest drama producer in Britain and in Europe” (via BBC News).

He said: “We have invested in a company that has not reached its zenith. We have [another] company called Left Bank Pictures who make The Crown, which you may have watched, and which is Britain’s biggest drama company. And we built that together with the founders of the company over about eight years or so.

“And we want to do the same with Bad Wolf. There is no reason why Bad Wolf should not be or could not be the biggest drama producer in Britain and in Europe. And that is our ambition.”

(15) KEEPING TRACK OF CENSORSHIP. “School Library Journal Starts a Library Censorship Tips Hotline” reports Book Riot.

…In response to this wave of censorship attempts, the School Library Journal has opened a library censorship tips hotline, which allows library professionals to report censorship attempts anonymously. Hopefully, this will give a more complete picture than the ALA numbers and shed light on censorship happening that is not getting covered on the news. The censorship tips hotline form asks for name and email (both optional); the library/school district, and state; and a comments field: “Tell us who is behind the objection—parents, school board members, or other parties—and how the district/library responded. Was challenge policy followed? Let us know anything else relevant.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The How It Should Have Ended gang have an opinion about Spider-Man.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Steve Miller, Rob Thornton, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 12/8/21 I’m Shocked To Find Scrolling Going On In Here

(1) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. In the New York Times, Amal El-Mohtar names “The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2021”. Here’s one of her picks:

In the gray fog of an uncertain year, these books stand out in bright colors and floods of intense feeling. They’re organized only by the order in which I read them….

No Gods, No Monsters

By Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone, 387 pp., $26.99)

Intimate and intricate, full of charismatic monsters and the dueling secret societies to which they belong. A pack of werewolves transform on camera, prompting hidden powers to rally for or against revealing the supernatural world of gods and monsters to the public. Mysteriously narrated and utterly riveting.

 (2) EXCEED YOUR GRASP. At Futurism, Matthew Angelo tells readers “Why Science Fiction Matters in Literature”.

… Science fiction typically deals with the impact of imagined future science and technology on society. Sci-Fi is an important genre in literature. It teaches us about contemporary ideas, inspires new technological inventions, and entertains us by telling stories that could not have happened otherwise….

Science Fiction is one of the biggest, most influential genres in literature. It taps into human dreams and nightmares about what might be, what could happen to us, and how we might deal with it. It makes up many of our fictional worlds, futures, and inhabitants. Science Fiction stories can be wildly different in content. Still, they all have a similar feeling of being exciting possibilities just out of reach. Science fiction is often thought to be just about aliens and robots. Still, it can also have a lot to do with social commentary….

(3) SPINNING BLADES. Foz Meadows tweeted two threads commenting on the social media heat directed at Neon Yang after Yang, who criticized Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story” when it appeared in January 2020, recently promoted the appearance of their own queer mech story in a forthcoming anthology. Thread starts here.

A second short thread starts here.

Suzanne F. Boswell advances a case that Neon Yang’s tweets in 2020 did not cause the outcome for which critics now want to hold them accountable. Thread starts here.

R. B. Lemberg warns about the damage from these exchanges. Thread starts here.

(4) HIS FAVORITE MARTIAN. Congratulations to Jonathan Eller, whose Bradbury Beyond Apollo has been named one of the Choice Outstanding Academic Titles for 2021. The list is quite selective: it contains approximately ten percent of some 6,000 works reviewed in Choice each year.

(5) AS VIEWED FROM ABOVE. Rob Hansen has created “a small extra” for those who read Bixelstrasse, his compilation of early LASFS history (see “Revisit ‘Fighting Forties’ LASFS in Rob Hansen’s Bixelstrasse”) – it’s an annotated Map of 1940s LA Fandom.

(6) A BARKING GOOD CLIMAX. Camestros Felapton announces “Debarkle Volume 3 Now Available”. It is the end, my friend, and the price is right – free! A list of vendors is at the link.

The third and final volume of Debarkle is now available from a wide range of online book stores and by “wide range” I mean “not Amazon”. As with the rest of this series, it’s been published via Draft2Digital and you can access it in these online book shops. Note: this is the “second draft” version with fewer typos than the blog version. A third draft version will be available as a collected edition of all three volumes before the end of the year.

(7) DOWN TO THE WIRE. Starburst Magazine’s Ed Fortune covers 2023 Site Selection here: “China Races Canada For Prestigious SciFi Con”.

… Worldcons are a long-running international Science Fiction convention that tends to be hosted in North America or Europe, and the next venue is determined two years ahead of time.

Recent years have seen the convention come to other parts of the world, such as Japan and New Zealand. Chinese fans have been actively seeking to bring the world-renowned event to Chengdu, China since 2014….

(8) 2023 WORLDCON BID Q&A. Video of last weekend’s bidder Q&A session at Smofcon Europe has now been posted.

Representatives of the 2023 Worldcon bids for Chengdu and Winnipeg present and answer questions. Terry Fong, Tony Xia, Tina Wang, Tammy Coxen (m)

(9) BACK ON HIS FEET. Nicholas Whyte reports on his recovery from Covid after spending the end of November and part of December sick in bed: “630 days of plague, and COVID 20 days on” in his Livejournal.

(10) THE CULTURE. Christopher Fowler, known to fans for his sff, discusses what makes English novels “English” at CrimeReads: “The Curse of Englishness: Why Every British Thriller Is Also a Black Comedy”.

…I first became aware of the curse when I heard the teacups. To be precise, their endless tinkling.

Whenever I listened to an English radio play as a child the sound effects included a spoon endlessly circling bone china. English characters were always going out and coming in, but mostly they stayed inside and drank tea, even in the grisliest true-life murder dramatizations. Our plots unfolded in small rooms. It’s an English thing; neat little houses, inclement weather. Agatha Christie was particularly obsessed with egress. ‘It was a fine old library with the only other door leading out to the pristine tennis courts.’ And as we tended not to point guns at each other, our fictional killers generally dismissed firearms in favour of doctored pots of chutney, electrified bathtubs and poisoned trifles. They escaped without leaving footprints and relocked doors with the aid of string….

(11) TODAY’S DAY.

I am reliably informed by John King Tarpinian that this is how I should have spent my day.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966[Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty five years ago, Star Trek’s “The Conscience of a King” first aired on NBC. The title comes from the concluding lines of Act II of Hamlet: “The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Barry Trivers wrote the script. Memory Alpha notes that he also wrote the never made “A Portrait in Black and White” episode based on a story premise by Roddenberry in his original series proposal for Star Trek

The primary guest cast here was Arnold Moss as Anton Karidian / Kodos and Barbara Anderson as Lenore Karidian. Other than a later Time Tunnel appearence, his only genre role. She played Mimi Davis in a recurring role on Mission: Impossible

Reception for it is generally very good though Keith DeCandido at Tor.com kvetches about how he’s identified as the war criminal. (Keith, it’s not your your modern CSI.) Later Trek writer Ronald D. Moore considers it one of the best Trek episodes ever done. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 8, 1861 Georges Méliès. Best known as a film director for A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) which he said was influenced by sources including Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 E. C. Segar. Best known as the creator of Popeye, who first appeared in 1929 in Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. Popeye’s first line in the strip, upon being asked if he was a sailor, was “Ja think I’m a cowboy?” J. Wellington Wimpy was another character in this strip that I’m fond of. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 James Thurber. He’s written a number of fantasies, The 13 ClocksThe White Deer and The Wonderful O, definitely none of which children should be reading. You’ve no doubt seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Danny Kaye which bears little resemblance to the original short story. It would be made into a second film, just eight years ago, again not resembling the source material. (Died 1961.)
  • Born December 8, 1950 Rick Baker, 71. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London.  So what else is he know for? Oh, I’m not listing everything but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The ExorcistStar WarsThe Howling which I quite love, Starman for the Starman transformation, the Beast design on the Beauty and the Beast series and the first Hellboy film version.
  • Born December 8, 1951 Brian Attebery, 70. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and Parabolas of Science Fiction with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre. He won a World Fantasy Award for his editing of Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and a Mythopoetic Scholarship Award for Stories about Stories: Fantasy & the Remaking of Myth.
  • Born December 8, 1954 Rebecca Neason. She wrote a Next Generation novel, Guises of The Mind,  plus several Highlander novels, and two fantasy novels; her widower says one novel went unpublished. She was a regular panelist at conventions in the Pacific Northwest. Jim Fiscus has a remembrance here.  (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 8, 1954 John Silbersack, 67. With Victoria Schochet, he edited the first four volumes of the Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology series. Seasonally appropriate, he edited with Chris Schelling, The Magic of Christmas: Holiday Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He’s written a Buck Rogers novel, Rogers’ Rangers, off a treatment by Niven and Pournelle. 
  • Born December 8, 1967 Laura J. Mixon, 64. She won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer at Sasquan for her writing about the abhorrent online activities of Benjanun Sriduangkaew. She has written a number of excellent novels including Glass Houses and Up Against It which got an Otherwise nomination. She is married to SF writer Steven Gould, with whom she co-wrote the novel Greenwar.

(14) GEORGE PÉREZ MEDICAL UPDATE. George Pérez, known for his work on DC’s The New Teen TitansCrisis on Infinite Earths and Wonder Woman, Marvel titles like Infinity Gauntlet and The Avengers, and with Kurt Busiek on the landmark Marvel/DC crossover JLA/Avengers (aka Avengers/JLA), announced on Facebook that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  

To all my fans, friends and extended family,

It’s rather hard to believe that it’s been almost three years since I formally announced my retirement from producing comics due to my failing vision and other infirmities brought on primarily by my diabetes. At the time I was flattered and humbled by the number of tributes and testimonials given me by my fans and peers. The kind words spoken on those occasions were so heartwarming that I used to quip that “the only thing missing from those events was me lying in a box.”

It was amusing at the time, I thought.

Now, not so much. On November 29th I received confirmation that, after undergoing surgery for a blockage in my liver, I have Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer. It is surgically inoperable and my estimated life expectancy is between 6 months to a year. I have been given the option of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, but after weighing all the variables and assessing just how much of my remaining days would be eaten up by doctor visits, treatments, hospital stays and dealing with the often stressful and frustrating bureaucracy of the medical system, I’ve opted to just let nature take its course and I will enjoy whatever time I have left as fully as possible with my beautiful wife of over 40 years, my family, friends and my fans.

Since I received my diagnosis and prognosis, those in my inner circle have given me so much love, support and help, both practical and emotional. They’ve given me peace.

There will be some business matters to take care of before I go. I am already arranging with my art agent to refund the money paid for sketches that I can no longer finish. And, since, despite only having one working eye, I can still sign my name, I hope to coordinate one last mass book signing to help make my passing a bit easier. I also hope that I will be able to make one last public appearance wherein I can be photographed with as many of my fans as possible, with the proviso that I get to hug each and every one of them. I just want to be able to say goodbye with smiles as well as tears…

(15) SEPTEMBER SONG ENCORE. BasedCon will ride again in September 2022, says chair Rob Kroese. The inaugural event he created to appeal to the “sci-fi writer or fan who is sick of woke politics” (see “BasedCon Planning for Dozens of Attendees”) actually drew 70.

(16) THE ROARING TWENTIES. The New York Times applauds this fashion statement: “Just in Time for Christmas: Knitwear Fit for a T. Rex”.

Behold the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex — all swaddled in a cozy Christmas sweater.

The replica T. rex at the Natural History Museum in London is an enormous, ferocious-looking beast that was built to scale, standing about 60 percent the size of the 40-foot-long prehistoric creature.

The animatronic attraction, which features roaring sound effects, often startles visitors, but on Monday, the predatory edge was somewhat softened when visitors found the T. rex bedecked in a giant blue, red and green holiday sweater, replete with cheerful Christmas trees and snowflakes….

(17) A BIRD IN FLIGHT. The European launch of the book The Space Cuckoo and Other Stories by Arvind Mishra will take place online, on December 13 at 6.00 p.m. Romanian Local Time, on Discord, at the international meeting of Syndicate 9 Science Fiction club from Timisoara, Romania. The guest of the meeting is the author, and the moderator, Darius Hupov.

To participate at the online meeting, please click the invitation link for the Syndicate 9 Discord server:
https://discord.gg/rs2YUAwP. The meeting will take place at the “Intalnirea S9” voice channel.

(18) I’M NOT SAYING IT’S ALIENS… [Item by Dann.] China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover has found something interesting on the moon.  The rover is going to spend the next couple of months trundling over to get a closer look. “China’s Yutu 2 rover spots cube-shaped ‘mystery hut’ on far side of the moon” at Space.com.

China’s Yutu 2 rover has spotted a mystery object on the horizon while working its way across Von Kármán crater on the far side of the moon.

Yutu 2 spotted a cube-shaped object on the horizon to the north and roughly 260 feet (80 meters) away in November during the mission’s 36th lunar day, according to a Yutu 2 diary published by Our Space, a Chinese language science outreach channel affiliated with the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Our Space referred to the object as a “mystery hut” but this [is] a placeholder name rather than an accurate description….

…but it’s aliens. Or the Transformers lunar base.

(19) GRESHAM’S LAW. Guillermo del Toro, director of Nightmare Alley, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Guillermo talks about his new movie…,, his attention to detail, his drawing notebook, his mother being a little bit of a “witch,” learning about tarot cards, getting married, shooting around the pandemic, Rooney Mara being secretly pregnant during it, buying and selling things on eBay, and he quizzes Jimmy about 1930s slang.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “In Honest Trailers:  Let There Be Carnage,” the Screen Junkies say ,” If you’re making a film about a squirelly guy who talks to himself, you get Gollum (Andy Serkis) to direct it.”  Under Serkis’s direction, the film features “bad CGI goo,” “bad wigs,” “British actors doing really bad American accents,” and a mysterious reference to Beverly Hills Cop 2!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Darius Hupov, Dann, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Revisit “Fighting Forties” LASFS in Rob Hansen’s Bixelstrasse

Did “Shangri-LA” or Ah! Sweet Idiocy! best describe the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society of the 1940s? The answer is – Yes! – as readers of Rob Hansen’s new fannish ebook will discover. Bixelstrasse: The SF Fan Community of 1940s Los Angeles is the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads. 

The story emerges from the participants’ own words – famous and notorious figures like Forrest J Ackerman, Charles Burbee, Claude Degler, Francis Towner Laney, “Tigrina” and “Morojo”, as well as pros of the day including Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Harryhausen, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, Fritz Lang, Fritz Leiber and A.E. van Vogt.

It’s another huge compilation — 193,000 words — and available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. Find it here.

From Rob Hansen’s Foreword:

The Bixel Street era of LASFS has fascinated me since I first read about it in Harry Warner Jr’s All Our Yesterdays. Yes, there have been other occasions on which fans have shared premises in varying degrees, but to have a community of fans centred around a clubroom and living in nearby rooming houses on the same street gave rise to all-week, around-the-clock fanning of a sort not seen before or since. […]

This set-up, the whole “fannish village” they established, was immensely appealing to me in my twenties (though seeing so much of each other inevitably exacerbated personality clashes, of course). Add in the large numbers of fans from around the country who passed through Los Angeles thanks to the war, many of them processed via the Induction Center at nearby Fort MacArthur before being sent off to fight, and you have something unique in the history of fandom, a saga featuring fans and pros, communists and homosexuals, madmen and mystics, Hollywood stars and spies.

Within the confines of mundane South Bixel Street lay the Bixelstrasse, a name that describes the tight cluster of dwellings on that street that housed its fannish community….

From Bixelstrasse: The SF Fan Community of 1940s Los Angeles.

Fans appearing in the cover photo taken at the 1941 LASFS Xmas Party are as follows. Rear: Helen Finn, Dorothy Finn, Eleanor O’Brien, Morojo, Art Joquel, Ed Chamberlain, Gerald Miller, Henry Hasse. Front: Paul Freehafer, Peggy Finn, Walt Daugherty, Forry Ackerman, Norwin Johnson. Sign over door reads SHOTTLE BOP. See also the 1940s LASFS Gallery at Rob Hansen’s site.

[Thanks to David Langford for the scoop!]